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Thursday, Sep 30, 2004

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Chairman Mike


M. K. Khanna (officially Mahinder, but known only as Mike) will be Chairman Emeritus of JWT.

This marks the end of an era at JWT India. Mike has guided the affairs of JWT (HTA for most of his reign) for two decades. Taking over from a giant like Subhash Ghoshal couldn't have been easy. Yet, the firm though very soft-spoken Mike has proved that you don't have to shout to be heard. Provided you know what you are saying. Mike filled the shoes of the legend with grace and style. He built up HTA into not just the single largest agency in India but also one that was known to build solid brands. Amidst all this, he found time to play his role in industry affairs, whether it was at the Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI) or the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), to mention just two.

Industry watchers observed that this was one succession plan nobody wanted to see happening.

Yet it had to, and Mike was his normal gracious self, personally taking the new man to the oldest client, Horlicks, and one of the largest, Pepsi, to introduce him around "properly."

It is good to know that the reassuring presence of Mike will be very much around actively for at least six months. Then he can start getting used to being Chairman Mike. In the meantime, he can bask in the warm glow of the encomiums pouring in. He deserves it.

New wheels

We're not comparing, but we heard all about the bright red Mercedes sports car Ranjan Kapur went out and indulged in, after he retired. Mike, it seems, didn't have to go out and do anything. He got a spanking new Mercedes as a little sign of appreciation from the company. Well, it must be a change for Mike. As the head of the advertising agency for Ford, he always drove around in a Ford Mondeo.

Ring in the new

Colvyn Harris is the new boss at JWT. The winds of change will really whistle through the corridors of the corporate office at Parel now. Colvyn is very different from Mike. Not just in the way he dresses (very casual) but also in his extremely informal demeanour. If the Government hadn't stopped tobacco advertising, Colvyn and his attractive wife Deepa (she is a marketing whiz in her own right) could have modelled as the `Made for Each Other' couple. The young and very unassuming Colvyn had stints in Chennai and Sri Lanka before he took over the reins at Contract. Presiding over a transition that saw the veteran Ram Sehgal and the creative hot shot Ravi Deshpande depart could not have been easy. Yet Colvyn rode those little speedbreakers and ensured that the agency continued to march on relentlessly. A music freak (his favourite gizmo is a little iPod with a lot of music stored in it), Colvyn should set feet tapping to a new tune at JWT.

New man at ASCI

Goutam Rakshit of Advertising Avenues has taken over as the Chairman of the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI). Rakshit has presided over the fortunes of the AAAI and the Audit Bureau of Circulation. He was also Chairman of the Asian Federation of Advertising Associations which organises the fabled AdAsia every alternative year. Rakshit is known for his fantastic networking skills, sense of humour and diplomacy.

Premnarayen bows out

Krishan Premnarayen obviously does not believe that one good term deserves another. After performing an almost miraculous job at the National Readership Studies Council, he has apparently decided to hand over the baton despite great pressure to stay on. The Deputy Chairman, Pradeep Guha, takes over as the new Chairman.

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