My first few months in advertising were months of groping in the dark. There were many highly regarded people in Clarion's creative department. Why could they not understand very simple things I was saying in my briefs! Fortunately for me, within a few months the sun rose- from the south. A copywriter who had joined Clarion Bangalore and was too bright for the Bangalore market of those days was transferred to Clarion Bombay.
His name was KS Chakravarthy. He insisted that everybody called him Chax. Not Chaks with an s but Chax with an x. For the straight-laced India of those days, he was an unusual man. An engineer who wanted to be a copywriter. Initially I was just curious about him. What piqued my curiosity was that he would take senior management of the agency on in campaign discussions and sometimes even win. I discovered that this was his second nature- that is how he was elected the leader of the student union of his engineering college. Curiosity about him overtime turned into friendship and then into respect for his unique combination of strengths.
As an engineer, when required, Chax could turn on his left brain skills. His comments on market shares & brand equity scores swept clients off their feet. The writer in him passionately loved ideas and craft. And the student union leader in him made him a leader of creative people. We left Clarion around the same time and agreed to work together again when we were both in senior positions.
At Chaitra when I was given the responsibility to transform the agency into Leo Burnett, an agency of tomorrow, I invited Chax to join us and soon made him our national creative director. He was probably among the first couple of creatives in the country to be given that title. Over just a few years, he put together a dream creative team. It included Pops, Aggi, Paddy, Priti to name just a few. Clients like Sanjiv Gupta of Coke, Pradeep Poddar of Heinz, Pradeep Pant- later Global Marketing Head of Reebok, David Thomas of Procter, all listened to us implicitly. We made an unbeatable new business team that picked accounts like Bajaj, Coke, Godrej Consumer- all within a span of a few of years.
What makes Chax a joy to work with is his unusual attitude. 'If you are just trying to find fault with a piece of work, I'm eloquent enough to convince you otherwise. However, if you are genuinely not happy with an idea, we have many more ideas where this one came from!'.
It is a true testimony to his unique creative talent that the campaigns created by him/under his leadership across agencies over the years are remembered by people. Many of them are enduring campaigns that are still running. Thums Up comes to mind as a ready example. And the people he has spotted and nurtured have gone onto become today's famous creative people. Aggi, Paddy, Priti, Ashish. The list goes on...
I look forward to more from him in his new avatar as a digital creative...