LEGENDS

Mohammed Khan

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Mohammed Khan
The Spirit of Enterprise

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. 

Perfectionism

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’.

Guts

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.
 

CLICK HERE TO SEE MOHAMMED KHAN'S WORK


 

Brand strategist & Co founder
Chlorophyll
Comments (15)
Harshvardhan Bhatkuly (Guest) I remember mailing that ad to you :) every time I am devoid of inspiration, I always read that ad.
08 Aug 2015 Reply
Sandeep Vij Prabs these are priceless! shud be part of your book! cheers
03 Aug 2015 Reply
Prabhakar Mundkur This one is on guts. I was a JWT trained account executive when I first joined Enterprise. I was to to go with a creds presentation to a new client along with Mohammed and I was bit foxed on how Enterprise does its creds. Anyway for safety I wrote a few slides and took them to Mohammed.
03 Aug 2015 Reply
Prabhakar Mundkur Perfectionist he was.
03 Aug 2015 Reply
Ramesh Nilakantan (Guest) Very well said Andy! Loved the 10th anniversary ad then, and more so now... Had the fortune of being a part of Enterprise Nexus for a short time, and did see Mohammed at close quarters. It was and will remain an amazing memory!
02 Aug 2015 Reply
Kiran Sharma (Guest) Simplicity is hard to attain what is even more difficult is to continue with it. I may not have worked personally with Mr. Khan but I do admire his work beacuse it reflects his simplicity.
02 Aug 2015 Reply
.....I finally got it right What a brilliantly written ad. I liked it in 1993. I like it even more now. Rajat (Lucky enough to work under Neil Johnson in the early 90's and then be hired by Mohammed a few years later.)
01 Aug 2015 Reply
Sushil Bahl (Guest) Good points highlighted. But today with our young managers? I had learnt this early in my career from greats like Mohammed! Including yourself Anand.
01 Aug 2015 Reply
Zachariah Mathew Mohammed's passion was infectious on the account management side of the business too... working on Lakme and Leela brought many moments of angst, dread, and heart attacks when he said the creative work needed to be changed ... an hour before presentation!! But it was in those moments I learnt the brass tacks of client management. I was blessed to work with him and be there when Enterprise turned 10 years old.
31 Jul 2015 Reply
Dinesh Khanna (Guest) And I too will say what Andy has said ... 'Thank you, Mohammed'
31 Jul 2015 Reply
Prathap Suthan There are very people who have dominated the copywriting landscape of India. For those who understand the art of copy, the balance of writing, the choice of words, the pauses, the breaks, the punctuation, and the ability to verbally argue and change opinions and perceptions, they would agree that no other writer wrote with a finer pen than Mohammed. I haven't ever worked with him, but my growing up years were heavily influenced by this man's work, style, and craft . True inspiration if there ever was one. Thank you for your tenacity, your conviction, and your words.
31 Jul 2015 Reply
Sandeep Vij The work in Mohammed Khan Saab's page was sent to Kulzy by Bhupal Ramnathkar. Thank you Ramu! In case anyone has access to any piece of work that Mr. Khan helped create... do mail it to sandeep.vij@kulzy.com. The community will love you for that & bless you!
31 Jul 2015 Reply
Shree Mamgain (Guest) That's very well written sir :) 
31 Jul 2015 Reply
sonali mehra (Guest) A delight to read about Mohammed Khan's work! Thank you Anand..
31 Jul 2015 Reply
Vishal Raman (Guest) Mohammed Khan, Kersy Katrak, AGK, Subroto Sengupta, Ravi Gupta, Mike Khanna, Alyque Padamsee , Gerson DCunha, Mani Iyer, Bal Mundkur, RK Swamy... and so many more.,, all legends who helped build the foundation that we all stand on.  Excellent piece Mr. Halve. You are priveleged to have worked with Mr. Khan. 
31 Jul 2015 Reply

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