The winds of inspiration for the formation of The Advertising Club in Bombay blew from the east – the Advertising Club of Calcutta, to be precise. That’s not surprising if you knew that, in the pre-independence days, it was not Bombay but Calcutta that enjoyed the enviable position of being the country’s business centre. The foundations of the Advertising Club were laid in 1954, when SoliTalyerkhan to join Voltas got in touch with Bobby Sista, having arrived in Bombay from Calcutta.
Having formed a small but determined group of like-minded individuals, Adi Patel, Bal Mundkar, Rudi Von Leyden, Bobby Sista, Hardcastle and Khurshid Dhondy met at what was to be the Advertising Club’s first meeting. The settings may have been informal, but the focus was clear: it was established to bring agencies and advertisers together. These popular afternoon gatherings every month centred on training, made possible through prominent guest speakers holding forth on key topics.
The Solus magazine became the voice of the Advertising Club and with the arrival of Wally Ovins as president, the Advertising Club revved up on the excitement. The Advertising Club Ball, an annual extravaganza, came to be one of the most talked about events and during the rest of the year, skits performed by eminent ad cum theatre personalities kept the social clock ticking. Membership swelled from 60 to 500.
Interestingly, the media side of the business never featured in the plans because the media was not considered a part of mainstream advertising in those days. Even though the Advertising Club was then considered elitist, since membership was restricted, amateurs saw it as an opportunity to increase social contacts and actively supported it. So did the veterans, whose exalted positions in the industry gave them the satisfaction of dispensing advice to upcoming talent.
Over The Years
Things have changed over the years, most of them for the better. The signs are all there — 33 per cent Asia-Pacific profits, a growth rate that’s three times the nation’s GDP, global partnerships with the world leaders, and an acceptance of Indian professionals as amongst the best. Besides the Abbys, so far its public face, the Advertising Club is involved in a number of other activities.
Over the years, it has become a catalyst in developing the industry by organising seminars, workshops and events enabling professionals and students to interact. Solus, the Advertising Club’s house journal, was recently awarded the best house journal by the Journal of India Public Relations, Hyderabad. To those for whom size matters, the Advertising Club is currently the largest such body in the world.
And with over 1600 active members from the fields of advertising, marketing, public relations, media and research fields, from across the country, it is arguably the busiest.