The advertising fraternity has lost a fairly well-known and well-liked personality in Rohinton Maloo in the Mumbai attacks. The fraternity also lost another personality who was not very well known – Monica Chhabra (nee Chowdhury).
Monica spent a very short time with the advertising fraternity. In that little time, she left her mark on whoever came in contact with her. I had the honour of working with Monica at McCann-Erickson in the Mumbai Office in the mid-nineties. Monica was a young and fairly inexperienced media planner. However, her passion, dedication and sincerity were unquestionable. She was a quiet person, who concentrated on doing her job well, in some fairly difficult circumstances.
Those were exciting days when McCann had just won the Coca-Cola business (creative and media planning). It was a very prestigious piece of business and demanded the very best talent. Even in those days, talent was the most difficult to find. Monica joined McCann at that point in time. She had about two years of experience behind her and was quite wary of handling such a huge piece of business. This wariness was tempered with a sense of excitement. There was practically no one else to do the media plans.
Lintas was the buying agency and keen to regain the planning part of the business. They fielded stalwarts like Meenakshi Madhvani. The McCann team consisted of Monica and me. As I was based in Delhi, Monica took most of the day-to-day heat on the account.
To her credit, she handled the business almost single-handedly, calling for help at the appropriate moments and earned the respect of all her colleagues at McCann as well as at Coca Cola.
Handling such a high pressure account was not easy, but she rose to the challenge every time. Being a true corporate citizen, Monica realised that we needed more staff to handle the daily pressure. It was then that she pursued Archana Aggarwal (now with P&G) to join media planning. She spotted Archana’s talent and pursued her relentlessly until the recruitment fructified. She then single-handledly handled Archana’s training. The fact that Archana has gone on to achieve superlative success is, in part, because of Monica’s efforts.
Once the media department was completely set up, Monica decided to exit the profession to enter wedlock and begin a family.
It is deeply shocking and saddening that Monica and her husband became victims of the terrorists while dining at the Oberoi.
Since Monica spent such a short time in the industry, not many people know her. However, all those with whom she came in contact with hold her in high esteem. My personal sense of loss is inexpressible. Words cannot adequately express the loss of a friend who stood by you like a rock in difficult times. I will personally miss her and pray to God that both Monica and her husband’s souls rest in peace. May her family have the strength to bear this terrible loss.
(PV Narayan Moorthy, independent media practitioner)