One of the key measures of an advertising leader - or any leader, for that matter - are the values he or she is driven by, and which influence those who work with him. Here are five things that deeply influenced me in the 11 years I worked with him at Enterprise Advertising, that have become part of my own gestalt, and why I love and respect Mohammed.
Mohammed had an almost visceral aversion to poor quality. And good was never good enough. In an environment in which mashed potatoes were used as a substitute for ice cream, he insisted on shooting with real ice cream (do you have ANY idea how much dry ice it takes to keep the ice cream from melting while the shoot progresses!) Or his dislike for retouched fake-looking pictures: “Why shoot a picture if you’re then going to paint all over it?!”
Simple advertising is beautiful advertising
Mohammed didn’t believe in complicated advertising with esoteric ideas. He wrote and encouraged a charmingly articulated inevitability. Some examples: For Charms cigarettes: ‘Charms is the spirit of freedom. Charms is the way you are’. For Venky’s frozen chicken: ‘Because better chicken makes better chicken’. For Superphone, India’s first intercom system: ‘When you want to talk, you don’t have to walk’.
In a world - especially today - of timid agencies that are politically correct to the point of cowardice, Mohammed was not afraid to be provocative. And he taught us too, to walk tall with an earned arrogance. Once, when there was a fierce debate between Lintas and HTA about which one was bigger, we ran this very Mohammed house ad: ‘There has been some controversy recently about which agency is the biggest. There is however, none about which is the best. Enterprise’.
The love for advertising
Mohammed infected us all with his love for advertising and for great work. And he showed it every day. Long before Steve Jobs said, "...the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do", at the Stanford commencement speech in 2005.
Leading by doing
And finally, as I once suggested to him, he wrote every so often, to remind the cub writers that the lion had not lost his roar. Here is the ad he wrote on the 10th birthday of Enterprise. I think the ad said it all. Click here to see the Ad
I can only add: Thank you, Mohammed.