Rest in Peace Goutam Rakshit — Rajeev Karwal

Guest Column: Rajeev Karwal, Founder Chairman of Milagrow Robots, writes about knowing Goutam Rakshit and the adman's iconic brand mascot - the Onida Devil

e4m by Rajeev Karwal
Updated: Apr 2, 2020 1:28 PM
Goutam Rakshit

It's been more than 23 years when I last met you. It has been more than 36 years when we first met. When I take your name or think of you and I did, so many times in the last 23 years, the face which comes to my mind is one which is kind and one which was ageing with grace. When I think of you as a professional the memory which I have of you is of a creative & empathetic person who knew how to get results in a calm manner.

Rajeev Karwal

Advertising Avenues came on board with Onida towards the 3rd quarter of 1984. You along with Ashok Roy & Gopi Kukde had come together from Clarion, a few months ago to form the agency. You acted as the brand custodian, Ashok was the copywriter and Gopi was the art director. A team which intuitively worked seamlessly, silently and effectively. Jaya Prasad was the account director and within a few weeks of coming on board, you had changed the mindset in our organization and set the path of revolutionizing not just the Television industry but the entire marketing industry in India.

The Devil was the personification of envy and the colour of envy was green as you explained to us. “Neighbours’ Envy, Owners Pride” was an apt tagline which described the emotion of envy.

Beltek, BPL, Crown, Disco, Dyanora, JK, Televista, Videocon, Weston and scores of other TV brands were talking of ITT or Sony Kits or made in Japan etc. Onida also had a JVC collaboration but you sold the idea of long-term brand positioning to us. You talked about how a brand is not only about specifications but also about how people remember it.

The first creative item which was done was the catalogue. Unfortunately, I lost the only copy I had a few years ago but I remember the Front-slit catalogue. On the front was the empty chair of the boss and when you opened the catalogue the inside was a conference room with many people having blank TV sets, as heads and the Boss’ Chair occupied by a handsome looking model of Onida. The Title said, “It’s not the Boss who arrived late, it’s the others who arrived in a hurry”. That was the belief which showed in Onida from your first work itself. But that was just the beginning.

With your strategy presentation, you had already gained the confidence of the promoters. Mr Sonu Mirchandani was the promoter of Monica Electronics & looked after North & East India, His elder brother Mr Gulu Mirchandani was the promoter of Mirc Electronics along with his brother in law Mr Vijay Mansukhani. & looked after South & West India. The promoters empowered you but not enough to allow you the usage of the devil in the 1 st print advertisement. But yes, they had bought into the brand strategy of playing on envy. The first print advertisement said, “The most envied colour TV is within a stone’s throw!” Onida, Neighbours’ Envy, Owners Pride. The visual showed a broken TV screen & the copy described the reasons as to why. It was a massive hit.

Soon, everyone gathered enough courage to use the devil in the print and the next set of advertisements exhorted the potential customers to “Give the devil his due”. The Devil had taken centre stage. The TV campaign followed with the green beast capturing eyeballs of the entire generation of TV viewers who may or may not have connected the devil with envy but for sure registered the mascot and the tagline independent of each other. The Onida market share skyrocketed. I was by that time posted to Kanpur. I was alone and used to eat at the restaurants there. Whenever the Onida advertisement ran on TV, I could see people raise their eyes and try to see every bit of it and the breaking of the TV screen.

A few people had a differing opinion on the mascot and the answer to the critics was the launch of new TV and the new campaign “Should the new Onida be banned” with the devil under a guillotine. The critics were silenced, the new 21” TV went on to create history. Onida becomes the No.1 TV brand in India by 1987.

I was transferred back to Delhi in 3 rd quarter of 1987 and again the interactions with you started, more frequently. By that time Advertising Avenues had become the creative hotspot for major brands. VIP Frenchie, The Skypac man, Pan Pasand were some of the memorable campaigns which the agency had done under your able leadership. Despite the success, you were the same person, humble, incisive & caring. It was during our interactions that you made me and Shobha realize that a good human can be a good professional too. Yes, Shobha, my better half had joined the advertising department by 1987 and we were working together.

As we pay our respects to you, both of us are unanimous that Onida was a brand that you created out of your insights and marketing genius which very few of your age possessed.

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