The Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI) on Friday conferred this year’s AAAI Lifetime Achievement Award on Roda Mehta. Accepting the award, Roda Mehta said, "I could never have done what you honour me for today, had it been any other agency than Ogilvy, Benson & Mather (OBM), or had it been any other time in the history of the agency. Across the spectrum of agencies, advertisers, research and all arms of the media, this industry will be preserved only through the masterpieces of women and men who through their organisations serve the interests of all, who through their associations seek the betterment of all and who through their actions deliver what is best for all."
The advertising industry turned up in full force - with people flying in from all over the country and even abroad - to be part of the celebration. This Award is the highest honour given to an individual in India for his/her outstanding contribution to the Advertising Industry.
Roda Mehta played a legendary and pioneering role in establishing scientific media planning and buying in India. While doing so, she built a whole generation of media professionals for the advertising industry. Mehta joined Hindustan Thompson Associates in 1971 and became the first MBA and first woman in the Media function of an advertising agency in India. She moved to Ogilvy Benson & Mather in 1975, and rose from Media Group Head to Media Controller for Bombay Office in 1976 to representing Media for the first time on the Managing Committee of Bombay Office in 1978. She was sent to London for 3 months to introduce Account Planning and Research in the Indian operation in 1980 and rose to the Board as Director – Media & Research in 1982.
She transferred, as President – South in 1992, became Director -International Client Service in 1994, and Managing Consultant - the Media Network in 1996. Along the way, she pioneered Outdoor planning and buying and set up a Rural Media network to service client requirements.
Invited on several committees and associations by the industry, including the Expert Committee on TV Marketing for Doordarshan and AIR, she was Founder Member of the Market Research Society of India (MRSI) and Founder Member and Chairperson - Technical Committee of the Media Research Users Council (MRUC). She chaired MRUC from 1994-96. Mehta was also on the Board of several other committees including Advisory Board - Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (Govt of India), AAAI’s Media Disputes Committee, Economic Times Advisory Panel, etc. An avidly sought after speaker at industry conferences/seminars, she served as faculty on training programs run by Ogilvy & Mather India and Asia Pacific.
Roda Mehta bagged several prestigious awards including the David Ogilvy Award for Asia Pacific and Agency of the Year Award (Public Service) 1992 for the National Literacy Mission campaign.
Currently, she is associated with several non-profit organisations as a Trustee of the Lila Poonawalla Foundation, which provides scholarships and mentoring to economically challenged girls from Maharashtra for post-graduate, graduate/diploma and secondary school education; Board Member and Treasurer of Nagrik Chetna Manch, a citizen’s watchdog organisation on public expenditure. She administers a very active Citizens’ Whatsapp Group for civic affairs of PMC Ward 21 and is a practitioner of Kriya Yoga.
The AAAI Lifetime Achievement Award, instituted in 1988 by AAAI, has been bestowed on 24 persons thus far.