How RK Swamy helped kick-start ad biz in the south

Our Bureau Chennai | Updated on August 02, 2019

(From left): Publisher S. Ramakrishnan of Cre-A; author TS Nagarajan; N. Murali, Chairman, Kasturi & Sons Ltd; Srinivasan Swamy, Chairman, RK Swamy Hansa; RV Rajan, Past President, Ad Club Madras and MM Charlie, President, Ad Club Madras, at the release of a book authored by Nagarajan at an event organised by Ad Club at the MMA auditorium, in Chennai on Thursday. Photo: R Ragu   -  The Hindu

When the late RK Swamy, a doyen of advertising, moved to the erstwhile Madras from Bombay in 1955 to open the JWT office in the city, the move led to the all-round growth and development of the advertising industry in southern India.

“Most businesses then thought advertising was wasteful expenditure and they also felt that since it was a controlled market there was no need to advertise,” said N Murali, Chairman, Kasturi & Sons Ltd.

“However, it was RK Swamy and his team who helped create a paradigm shift and taught local businesses the importance of advertising,” said Mr Murali, at the launch of the book AD Ventures by TS Nagarajan, a key member of Swamy’s team in the decade from 1963.

The book has been published by Crea-A, while the launch, organised by Ad Club Madras, took place at the Madras Management Association's auditorium.

“JWT had many firsts to its credit and an ecosystem of advertising was developed that also created many jobs,” said Murali. He pointed out that it was Swamy who got PSUs to advertise, a first for that era. Swamy had moved to Madras initially to service the Binny account, but he had the farsightedness to create a full-service ad agency instead being a mere one account servicing agency. Nagarajan, who is now 88 years old and has a string of qualifications, from a bachelor’s in mathematics, to a doctorate in astrology, played a key role in many of those campaigns and brought into play market research and analysis, again a first for advertising in those times.

In his book, he has written about the many campaigns that he was associated with in what he describes as a golden age of advertising.

Nagarajan said that there were many firsts during that period. RK Swamy was the first to bring PSUs into the advertising fold; the first to bring market research into advertising; it created an infrastructure for advertising which was non-existent earlier.

Advertising in that era had to sell products not just brands — for example, Parry’s had to advertise and tell consumers to buy wrapped sweets and, hence, buy Parry’s. It was also the first time that brands were told about market segmentation.

Srinivasan K Swamy, Chairman, RK Swamy Hansa and RK Swamy’s son, said that his father and his core team helped the ad industry in Madras flourish in those days.

Published on August 01, 2019

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