Teachers' Day: Admen and their creative mentors

Advertising maestros tell us about one teacher or mentor who has played an integral role in their advertising journey

by Misbaah Mansuri
Published - Sep 5, 2018 8:59 AM Updated: Sep 5, 2018 8:59 AM
The teacher-student bond has been one of the most celebrated themes in the Indian advertising. And rightly so, over the years, we've seen spots that beautifully tapped emotions showcasing this relationship. This made us wonder who are the teachers or mentors behind the creative minds of those who roll out such brilliant communications.

So we asked our adverting maestros about one teacher or mentor who has played an integral role in their advertising journey by being their guiding light as they chased their dreams. That one person who made a difference to their lives. The brightest stars of Indian advertising open up. Read on...

Amer Jaleel, Group Chairman & Chief Creative Officer, Mullen Lintas

A lot of us in advertising grew up with the concept of the not-present teacher. And no that does not mean that our bosses were at gin lunches all the time, well not entirely at least. Our bosses were different and our teachers were different. We had no access to teachers; there were only people who we chose to learn from. But unlike Eklavya, we did not put up images of our Dronas. Instead, we pinned up the work of those who we considered masters. Bosses toh class liya kartey the, sikhaney waale toh aur hi the!


Bobby Pawar, MD & Chief Creative Officer, Publicis Worldwide

I have quite a few people to mention here. They include Rick Boyko, Steve Hayden, Marty Orzio and Piyush. They have made a difference to my journey.

Josy Paul, Chairman, BBDO India

I was fortunate to find myself surrounded by a commonwealth of amazing teachers. Emotional angel investors of my world. They taught me everything I know and they encouraged me to think for myself. They pushed me hard to take the leap but they were always behind me to break my fall. Suresh Mallick at Ogilvy&Mather. Alyque Padamsee, Kersy Katrak, Balki and Neville D’Souza at Lowe Lintas. Piyush Pandey, Ranjan Kapur and Madhukar Sabnavis when we set up a young challenger agency called ‘David’ for Ogilvy (now a worldwide agency.) Andrew Robertson, Chris Thomas and Ajai Jhala at BBDO India (we set up BBDO India from scratch.) I am blessed by these awesome mentors and chief motivation officers. They provoked me to fly. I am made of them. Thank you, angels.

Kunal Jeswani, Chief Executive, Ogilvy India

Teachers come in many forms. Family: my mom, my brother, both artists, both strong early influences in their own way. Teachers: so many that, through school, college and work, trained me to be better than I was, and drove me to be more than I thought I could be. And finally, people I've worked with: M Raghunath, Anand Halve, Mohammed Khan, Maia Katrak, Madhukar Sabnavis and Piyush Pandey. There is, hopefully, a little bit them in everything I am today.

Rohit Ohri, Group Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, FCB India

Ram Ray, Founder Chairman of Response India, was my first boss in advertising. He taught me the most important lesson in the advertising business -- when you pay attention to detail, the big picture takes care of itself.

Rahul Jauhari, Joint President & Chief Creative Officer, Rediffusion India & Everest Brand Solutions

I sincerely hope every entrant in this field gets the kind of mentors I have been fortunate to have. Gull Sen showed me the strategic sharpness that a creative person is capable of. And Chax (KS Chakravarthy) who taught me that true leadership is all about working on creating the next line of leaders.

Raghu Bhat, Director, Scarecrow M&C Saatchi

Ravi Deshpande, who was the Chief Creative Officer of Contract Advertising, played a big role in my career. We were in the Windows batch and I had made a presentation on the parallels between advertising and F1. He started laughing out aloud. I got transferred to Contract Delhi but I used to write letters to him about my experiences in a wry Brit style, which he really enjoyed. Whenever he used to visit Delhi, he made it a point to spend time with me. All these things made a big difference. It gave me the confidence that I can create work that people will enjoy.

Subhash Kamath, CEO and Managing Partner, BBH India

To Piyush Pandey, Suresh Mullick, Chintamani Rao, Ranjan Kapur, Ravi Gupta, Alok Nanda, Vikas Gaitonde, Elsie Nanji, Mohammed Khan, Matthew Godfrey, Jeffrey Yu, Miles Young, John Hegarty, Nigel Bogle, Simon Sherwood and to the hundred other seniors & juniors who’ve taught me so much over the years, Happy Teacher’s Day!


Tarun Rai, Chief Creative Officer, J. Walter Thompson South Asia

I had not planned to be in advertising for more than a couple of years. After starting my career with Asian Paints, I thought a short stint in advertising would prepare me well for a long career in marketing. But I went on to spend the next 19 years in advertising and JWT. There are so many people who I can attribute my long innings in advertising to. But if I had to narrow it down, it has to be two very important people who started me off on this journey. As a teacher it was Manoj Berry, my first boss in advertising. He literally taught me advertising. I imbibed his passion and his idealism. And the other was Sunil Gupta. He hired me. And he mentored me through my career in JWT. Between the two, I learnt to love our business and got the right opportunities to grow as a professional.

Rana Barua, Former Chief Executive Officer, Creativeland Asia

Mentors in our industry are rare. Yet, I have been privileged to have a few of them who I look up to and consult a lot. Just want to thank them on this special day for always being around. For more updates, be socially connected with us on
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