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Every advertising agency was keen to know how our mid-sized set-up had landed this prestigious account.

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Lucky break

The President of a leading industry association, who was also the chairman and owner of India’s largest consumer brand, liked our work and asked me to see him. 

As I sat there in his office, he buzzed his secretary, “Ask Mohan to see me.”

Mohan, his advertising head, controlled one of the largest budgets in India, and was a much sought after person by every agency. I had tried to meet him many a time but with no success.

A short middle-aged person, with a slight stoop, walked in, note pad in his hand. 

“Mohan, this is Rishi. His agency works for our industry association. Empanel them with us.”

“Sure Sir,” said Mohan and requested me to accompany him to his office.

His stoop disappeared as he led me away. He ordered some coffee and came straight the point.

“ You know I recently appointed a new agency. Only the top four agencies were invited to pitch,” he said. I was clearly not welcome.

I tried to offer a conciliatory note. “ I am aware of that Mohan.   And this is just not the way I prefer winning an account. The Chairman liked our work and here we are.” 

That was six months ago.  

Our billings from Mohan: ZERO.

Bad to worse

I made many visits to Mohan’s office and his response every time was curt and dismissive, “Remember I did not invite you to be our agency. And when I have something for you, I will let you know.” 

In my next meeting with the Chairman, I shared some new advertising strategies. He liked my ideas and asked me to make a full presentation in three weeks time.

“Sir, it would be nice if you also tell Mohan about this,” I requested. 

Manna from heaven

Two weeks later Mohan acceded to my request to preview our presentation. 

As I ran through the slides, he seemed clearly disinterested till suddenly he sat up and said, “Go back two slides.”

I did that.

“We tried that four years ago and it bombed. Delete that slide,” he ordered me.

And then it struck me like a bolt of lightening! All my problems could soon be over.

“ Can I make a suggestion, Mohan?”

“Go ahead,” he said.

“ Let me leave this slide here. You can correct us during our presentation to the chairman,” I said.

He was silent for what seemed like an eternity and then said, “Good idea. Can we do something similar in a few more slides? ”

He had taken the bait.

During the final presentation things went as planned. Every time Mohan interjected, the Chairman smiled at him and said ‘Well done, Mohan!’

Mohan was now an ally and a good friend. And this became our go-to strategy in every subsequent presentation. 

Our revenues trebled that year.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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corporate advertising magazine 2 Aug 2021

Jayaram Easwaran

Author, Consultant, and Independent Board Director at Jindal Stainless

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