Yesterday at the AK Lit Fest I was listening to a self obsessed ad person making a public mockery, with inaccurate facts about how Sri Lankan ad agencies, prior to the advent of his infamous one, had burger eating, beer drinking creative people who only thought in English and looked down upon the Sinhala speaking, බත් පැකට් eating Sinhala Creative talent. According to him, his agency was the saviour of the Sinhala language and Sinhala creative conceptulaising for the industry! He also claimed that it was his agency’s contribution to the industry, that changed the landscape of Sinhala thinking in creative conceptualising. Ha? What was he thinking when he made this totally inaccurate statement? Had he not studied some amazing Sinhala campaigns that were considered landmark case studies in the ad industry? They may not have kept rogue politicians in power, but definitely අපි මාතර made Sampath Bank what it is today, didn’t it not? Wonder what the original English idea was for ඇල්ලුවට හපන්න පුලුවන්ද? Or may be those burger eating beer drinking types were high on මෙන්ඩිස් ගල් when they thought of the Sinhala campaign line මෙන්ඩිස් ගල් ගැහුවම මල්? I can rattle off hundred such brilliant Sinhala concepts with my eyes closed.
What rubbish is this? Where did he land to the industry from? I was aghast at his rant. I wanted to scream! How dare he. People like that should study the industry and appreciate the people and the work that had made the ad industry what it is today, way before his time. He should at least recognize the people who truly beleived in the profession, who did not do so as a pure commercial and political venture for self development, power play and recognition purposes, like some we know.
While I take total offense to his inaccurate public comments, let me pay tribute to some amazing Sinhala Creative Minds who contributed with land mark Sinhala campaigns in the industry. As local agencies went, Phoenix stands ahead of all other ‘big’ agencies for breaking the mould long long years ago. So Irvin, please take a bow.
Some of my dear peers are dead and gone, but still very much in my mind as stalwarts of Sinhala creativity, who are worth remembering at a time when pseudo nationalists rule the roost in every sphere. Here are some of them I honour with deep love and pride on behalf of the industry.
Upali Attanayake, Dharmasiri Wickramaratne, Irvin Weerackody, Tissa Abeysekera, Upali Herath, Rohan Piyadasa, Krishna (now Vishnu), Dileepa Abeysekera, Udaya Tennakoon, Kapila Kumara Kalinga, Jagath Kumarasinge, Lucien Rajakarunanayake (the list goes on) … You were never ashamed of your knowledge of Sinhala nor did you have a complex about openly stating that you were Sinhala writers, which you did with pride for sure. You guys rock!
As an ex-ad person, it pains to hear people making false claims to defame the industry and to position their own selves as one of a kind. I couldn’t let this moment pass without a correction. The audience was not ad people and I was sad that wrong messages were sent about an industry I have sweated and toiled in, totally due to the love and passion I had for it.