Subroto Sengupta, the doyen of Indian advertising, died in Kolkata on Monday. He was in his late seventies.
Sengupta joined the British agency D J Keymer along with stalwarts like Tara Sinha, film director Satyajit Ray and S N Banerji.
When Keymer’s shut shop, a handful of people including Sengupta set up Clarion Advertising, which has now morphed into Bates India.
“He was one of the intellects of the advertising business in a notoriously lightweight profession. He had an incisive mind wedded to a creative one, which made him priceless,” says Gerson daCunha, Sengupta’s contemporary.
According to him, it was Sengupta who brought positioning upfront in the industry. “Subroto did a systematic examination of positioning concepts and methodologies and applied it to the Indian situation. The Indian concern was only with pricing and distribution then,” he says.
He was a regular lecturer at the Indian Institutes of Management at both Ahmedabad and Calcutta. Students say that there was a rush to take Sengupta’s advertising course in IIM-A, where he got both daCunha and marketing stalwart Shunu Sen to teach advertising judgement.
Today, thanks to Sengupta, Hindustan Lever’s Pear’s soap is positioned as a transparent offering. He is also credited with Complan’s positioning of a complete family food with 23 vital ingredients.