Delna Sethna

By Vivek Rao
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Delna Sethna
The Golden Girl Who Paid It Forward

For some years now, few Marketing Gurus & Brand Whisperers have been constantly drumming up apocalyptic scenarios of Advertising’s future.

While that narrative isn’t going to disappear in a hurry, the one that’s been playing like a broken record is something that I’d been hearing ad nauseum – Where are the present day Mentors, the Wizened Wizards, the New Age Obi Wan Kanobis in advertising? How can advertising hope to attract new talent without these Magical Mavericks?

Truth be told, they’re very much there in advertising. Yep, this tribe of beautiful minds is continuing the glorious tradition of nurturing and guiding imaginative cubs to conjure up pieces of brilliance that waltz their way into popular culture.

I’ve the pleasure of writing about one such beacon – Delna Sethna. While I’ve known Del for a little over 2 years as a colleague and never worked with her directly, I got to know her well enough to know that she’s one of the reasons people can look at advertising in the eye and give it a proud salute.

She is the Pocket Rocket Dynamo who brings the much needed sense, calm and assurance to people who work with her. The former Australian cricketer Justin Langer once quoted of his Captain Steve Waugh – ‘If Steve asks me to run through a wall, I’ll start running as hard as I could’. I have no doubt that Delna’s bachchas (as she loves to call her team) would gladly do the same for her.

I’ve seen the confidence she instills in them, how she takes a germ of a thought, chisels it with them and makes sure that their ideas see the light of day. Having cut her teeth around various legends like Balki, Zarvan Patel, Elsi Nanji at different points in her career, she knows what it takes for the Brand to evolve with simplicity, charm and recall.

While most Creative Heads try and garner the plum accounts in their kitty, Del will work on any category given to her and yet create campaigns that beautifully stand out amidst all the clutter that is public is subjected to. She will work closely with Account Management, Strategy, Films etc to ensure that whatever piece of communication comes from her stable has a charm about it.

And she wouldn’t mind treading on toes to ensure that it happens. Del will openly speak her mind and does not shy away from telling a client exactly what she thinks of their feedback if it doesn’t make sense to her. No mollycoddling or pandering to their whims and fancies. That’s why all her clients hold her in the highest possible regard.

Refreshingly, in an age where Creative Folks take to posting every piece of communication on Social Media to elicit the hackneyed ego-massaging comments, Delna is most comfortable staying off Social Media.

In fact, the only other gadget that she’s willing to utilize apart from her mobile is her Kindle. She can devour e-books like pastries and can go on holidays with just the reader for company.

To me Del’s essence can be captured with a little anecdote at my previous agency. Earlier this year, entries to the Cannes Festival were being readied and Del’s team had 2 campaigns that were submitted.

Prior to her departure to Cannes, Del had taken her team for a luncheon. When they returned to office at around 4, they clearly looked like they had the time of their lives and were in a splendid mood. I asked Del if it was someone’s birthday and hence the lunch.

She said ‘No, I simply wanted to take them for a celebration lunch because no matter what the result at Cannes, I want them to know that they are already winners in my eyes’.

That’s Del for you. It’s folks like her who make sure Advertising will always continue to be a strong bastion for creative people to spread their wings.

Oh and by the way, at Cannes, Del’s team did win GOLD!

VP & Head - Creative & Communications, STAR SPORTS
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