Saturday, December 12, 2009

SAINT PHILIPS - From the Book Living on the ADGE in Jhande Walan Thompson by my friend Sunil Gupta

Page 442.....

"Fear not, all is not doom and gloom, only about 90 Percent. There Was one light in the business wilderness and appropriately this was Philips. Not the lighting division, thought even that would have been welcome by then, but their consumer electronics division, the head of which was the redoubtable Rajeev Karwal, Fresh from his stint at LG where he had overturned conventional wisdom and two false starts to make them the brand leaders in India.

Sometime in February 2001, when I was playing my version of ‘Doctor Doctor!’ on the domestic front we got a feeler from them. Apparently they were shifting their business to DDB internationally, but were somewhat stymied in India as Mudra, the DDB agency here, already handled Samsung. (For once, this conflict issue was going the other way for us!)

We therefore went and met them and made the usual credentials presentation. It seemed to go well, but as is usual, everything went silent for a couple of weeks. This was fine by us actually, in the sense that we were still negotiating with Con-job, and so could afford to wait. Con-job however misfired, so it was back to gnawing one’s nails, or what was left of them between the hospital and email, and prayed.

I finally received a call from Mili that Rajeev had called and wanted to meet me in late March. I was incarcerated at home because things on the domestic front were dismal. (The household help had been given the boot because they tried a spot of financial blackmail after we got home with the baby, thinking we’d be desperate and give in to all their whims). Suffice it to say that I knew this was one meeting I could not miss and also that there was no one else who I thought could or should take the meeting. Significantly, it did not even cross my mind that I might ask Mahinder to take it on my behalf. More on this aspect later, but somehow I had to find a way to go to that meeting. Then, of course, God stepped in (we were able to get hold of a nanny all the way from Goa through a series of unbelievable coincidences) and I made it to the Philips office in Andheri. This was one of the most significant meetings in my life, not only because we got the business without a pitch, I might ad but also because of the great professional relationship I forged with Rajeev. Today it is also a personal friendship, but at all times I have been privileged (and I don’t say this often) to have met, interacted, and learnt from a person who is the consummate professional and a fine human being. Actually, I often joke that I cannot imagine him ever stooping to abusing someone in any language whatsoever, and his stature is evidenced by the fine organization he is building called Milagrow.

There are very few ‘good’ people in this world, and Rajeev is unquestionably one. In many ways, I think he is the Young Gandhi of modern business, that is why the first meeting in February 2001 is a highlight of my life.

Philips became a star client for us, but it took till July 2001 for it to come officially into the fold. However, it made the expected waves in the industry. HTA was not really known for being an agency that was qualified to handle clients in the electronics space, being thought of as a sort of mommas-home-made-pie agency, and further, HTA Bombay was way behind, as you know, in the sexy category marketplace. It was therefore a big win for us, and I know that the relationship grew and prospered till many years later they moved to Mudra-DDB due to international alignment compulsions."

Thank you Sunil. Your kind words will make my resolve stronger and make me strive harder. Wishing that our friendship stays like this for ever.

1 comment:

Prinay Manjeshwar said...

Brings back a lot of happy memories from our Philips days... Thanks for the link. Regards, Prinay.