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Bombay Ad Club turns 50 with ‘a righteous sermon’ from Anil Ambani

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Bombay Ad Club turns 50 with ‘a righteous sermon’ from Anil Ambani

The Bombay Advertising Club has completed 50 years and it made it a point that there is maximum strength of media fraternity participating in its golden jubilee celebration. To celebrate the completion of 50 yrs, the club organised an event, where it also unveiled the new Ad Club logo, a book on 50 careers of the Ad Club, a special edition of the Club’s publication ‘Solus’ and announced social initiatives that the club has undertaken. Added to all this, was the key note address from the Chief Guest Anil Ambani, Vice Chairman and MD, Reliance Industries, which he reckoned as a “righteous sermon”.

The evening brought all famed advertising personalities – from yesteryears’ gurus to today’s chieftains – all who brought a difference to the profession, under one roof. Marked with a fair mix of entertainment, insights in the advertising industry and plain partying, the event commenced with an audiovisual presentation, anchored by Gerson da Cunha. The presentation captured the evolution of advertising – encapsulating immortal advertisements of the past.

Followed by a performance by percussionist Trilok Gurtu, Club President MG Parmeswaran shared the story of the birth and growth of the Club. “In 1954, eight advertising professionals got together and formed the Bombay Ad Club with the objective to improve the quality of advertising – as a city-based initiative. Soon the number grew to 80 of which, 68 went on to be members of the Club,” began Parmeswaran.

He further discussed the various initiatives that the club had undertaken not just in terms of the profession but also at a social level. “We have organised workshops for advertising students and known names of the field became a part of this. Apart from steps like this, even at a social level, the Club is looking at campaigns for voter awareness and the likes.”

With this, he spoke on the importance of advertising in building business, opening the floor for Ambani, who began drawing a comparison of India’s performance in other areas like IT and Steel vis-à-vis advertising, pointing that while Indian companies had made a mark in these fields, such was not the case with the advertising industry. Says Ambani, “In the case of advertising, it is as if the sun didn’t set on the East India Company at all. We might as well be in 1944 when Indians were working for foreigners. I don’t know whether this is a result of lack of desire, self-belief, resources or just mindsets.”

Adding further, he says that while the advertising industry in India has grown exponentially, from under Rs 1000 crore to over 10,000 crore in 10 years, it still accounts for lesser than a quarter of the global ad industry. “Indian advertising is still tied to international names, trends and not to mention, our good friend Sir Martin Sorrell,” he remarks, “But if the we speak of Brand India, where has Indian advertising contributed?”

Going further, he cites examples of the likes of Narayanmoorthy, Premji and Ambani senior, saying that when these names undertook their journey, they were not even contemplating an international hand helping them in leading the way, “These men just had with them courage, conviction, passion, pride and most importantly, the belief in the power of India and Indians,” he says.

“We have the power of storytelling and that is obvious in not just our history but also in current arenas like the film industry,” he expresses, “Advertising too is about values, beliefs and associating with culture – that is a power India has, and not foreigners.”

The chief guest culminated his speech, shedding more light on what India had to offer to the advertising industry and again bringing out the need for advertisers today to increase the Indian ratio in the ad industry and developing the field to the stage that foreign bodies would look at working with us and not the other way round.

An Ad Club evening is not complete without awards and for the golden jubilee too, the club had organised a contest between advertising professionals to make an ad on the theme ‘An interesting profession called advertising’. FCB Ulka won the contest with Ogilvy One emerging as runner-up.

The evening ended with Kalpana Rao giving credit to everyone who had put the event together, people behind the new logo and all the past presidents of The Bombay Advertising Club.

In 50 years, the Ad Club has become an important part of most advertising professionals and it is actively undertaking activities that will take the profession forward. The contribution of the club to the industry cannot be missed and the golden jubilee celebration accentuated this.


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