On a Sunday, which is a week after Guru Poornima, I write a few thoughts as a short tribute to my Guru Roda Mehta, on the occasion of her well-deserved AAAI Lifetime Achievement award. All my own work, while I try a poor copy of the style of another big persona of those times, whom I admire!
It is a fact that the newer generation may not be aware of but must be said—Roda Mehta was the first media professional who ensured Media Planning and Buying in India got its due, by simply demonstrating so and seizing the position.
Her gait, style and professionalism were so impeccably and brutally correct and upright, without any personal agenda, and this is what so many people in the industry those days were in awe of. Somehow, in the same vein, the name SR Ayer springs up in my mind with the unmistakable 'Raw-da' as he would call her.
Looking back, I can’t help but feel that what she got out of us planners in those days of far-limited research was of a very high quality and far ahead of the times. Those who know her would surely now see how ahead of the times she was then.
Roda is the first person who could see the cable and satellite led media revolution coming up. She was the first one to see the need for diversified services and integrated marcom planning.
She has also done yeoman service for the industry by bringing in her stamp of professional unbiased approach to institutions like the ABC and MRUC.
Moreover, she was the first person to get the industry to see the need for research in diversified services like rural and OOH.
Upon pondering further, I also think that she was the originator of the Media AOR we all know today. But, of course, I am convinced that others who followed took it onto an extremely different path than what she would have taken.
While it was a pleasant surprise to interact with her at AAAI following a special lunch with her disciples the following day, I could see that Roda is the same person we all know her as - not that I expected her to change, but it did bring back old memories.
Finally, if she were active in this era, what all would Roda have done for Media Planning and Buying and the industry at large? And how different would her envisioned role of the media function in India (or worldwide) been like?
--Shripad Kulkarni, MD, Vizeum, Dentsu Aegis Network, India