Pradeep Guha: A Man Who Would Get Things Done, And How!

PG always knew the importance of industry relationships and the ecosystem, writes Srinivasan K Swamy, Chairman, R K SWAMY HANSA Group

Though I had heard of Pradeep Guha (PG) as an important and resourceful industry leader, I never met him until Ad Asia 2003 in Jaipur. There, we got to know each other and our relationship started on a formal note. We went up in the industry hierarchy together, where I was the Vice President at Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI) for two years and he was VP and Deputy President at Indian Newspaper Society. In 2004-05, we both became Presidents in our respective industry bodies.

Pradeep joined ZEE in 2005 and was also in charge of the new publication, DNA, that ZEE launched. AAAI was celebrating its Diamond Jubilee and we were looking for money to hold a series of events including a three-day symposium on the Future of Advertising. It took only a few minutes for him to confirm that DNA will take on title sponsorships for the event. PG always knew the importance of industry relationships and the ecosystem that needs to be supported.

In my second year as President of AAAI, we launched Goafest (April 2006). PG as past president of the Advertising Club was unhappy that the Abby Awards that he had built in Ad Club, was being challenged and he suggested that we partner with Ad Club. I invited the leadership team of Ad Club to join us, but somehow the team then didn’t see value in partnering with AAAI. Goafest was so well differentiated that many agencies ignored Abbys in the first year. Nudged by PG, I had another round of meeting with Ad Club leadership to partner with AAAI in the second year, which again was in vain. (After the first two years of Goafest, I stepped down as President and Ad Club agreed on a partnership arrangement with AAAI, which I am sure was prodded along by PG). Despite his reservations with Goafest as a competitor for Abby awards, PG the quintessential industry man, supported the festival during those initial years.

I took over as President of IAA India Chapter in 2012. PG was an IAA veteran then since he had served IAA Global as VP & Area Director for several years and also was a past President of IAA India Chapter. When IAA Global was celebrating its Platinum Jubilee in 2013, we had our own Global Marketing Summit to commemorate this landmark. We had invited Hon’ble Sri Narendra Modi, who was the BJP’s PM candidate then. PG’s welcome address set the tone for the event which only a senior statesman like him can.

During my four years as President of India Chapter, PG was of solid support. He not only sponsored successive Olive Crown Awards (OCA) but was equally generous with his time. OCA always had a touch of class because of the VIPs he brought in. For instance, we have had Ministers like Praful Patel, Piyush Goyal and Maneka Gandhi or well-known personalities like Amitabh Bachchan, Diya Mirza, John Abraham, Sadhguru etc at the events. He was requested to Chair the first few IndIAA Awards which he did with total dedication that it became an important event in IAA’s annual calendar. In 2015, when IAA India celebrated its Silver Jubilee with its own IAA Silver Jubilee Summit, he chaired this 2 ½ day event and brought in such

interesting people like Shahrukh Khan, Sachin Tendulkar, and many accomplished international speakers to make it very memorable. It was the biggest ever IAA event held in India till then with over 1300 delegates. In 2016 he encouraged me to stand for election for Senior Vice President position at IAA Global which would automatically make me the President of the global body in 2018. Without his encouragement and support, I wouldn’t have had the courage to take on the World President’s responsibility.

If PG was proud of what he delivered in Ad Asia 2003 at Jaipur, he must have been twice as thrilled as to what he delivered for the 44th IAA World Congress at Kochi in Feb 2019. The three days Congress was the biggest event IAA Global had seen anywhere in the world. It had world-class content, extravagance, high-quality entertainment and the participants from all over the world were truly taken in by what they saw.

That’s PG for you. If he takes up something, you can be sure of his total commitment. And without any compromise to the end result! In his passing away, I truly will miss a dear friend, an industry colleague and a partner.

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