Thank you IAA for this honour and inducting me into the IAA Hall of Fame. Your citation talks about my contribution to the industry. Let me tell you, as they say, ‘It pays to start early’. I got sucked into writing for Solus, the Ad Club magazine, in the very first year that I started working and have stayed involved with almost all industry matters ever since. One of the things that characterized IAA in the early days and set it apart from the other associations and their events, were luncheon meetings at the Taj, which were arranged whenever we could get a celebrity speaker. I guess we can’t do lunch meetings now (otherwise we will spend the whole day going to the venue and returning to work).
It’s now my turn to say ‘Advertising has changed’. But then, I also wonder, what’s new about that? When I invited Bobby Kukka, the legendary Air India man, in the 80s to the Ad Club’s Silver Jubilee celebrations, he also told the audience, that had a fair sprinkling of MBAs, “Advertising has changed.” He said, “In my time all that you required to be in Advertising was the facility of the English language and an ability to down three pink gins at lunch.” I must admit many of my advertising lunches in the early days at Taj and Oberoi were laced with Campari-sodas.
When I started my working life, the Advertising market, which is now at about Rs 60,000 crore, was just about Rs 100 crore! My second job was at Cadbury, whose turnover then was, guess what…. Rs 20 crore! And even then, it was considered a large company! Much has changed since then, but much has also remained constant. Whilst almost everything at Madison has changed many times over in its 30 years of independent existence, I must say our value system and commitment to meeting client objectives and client service hasn’t. Yes, one thing has changed... I used to say in those days, ‘A good agency is a small agency with a few large clients’. I would say that in the first 15 years, we stayed true to this belief. In fact, in the first five years of Madison, we dealt with only two clients – Godrej and Nelco. But I wonder if I can say it today, Madison World having serviced 550 clients last year. But I rue the fact that Advertising has moved from being a profession to a business.
Thank you IAA, once again, for inducting me into your hallowed Hall of Fame.