Former P&G marketing head Vivek Bali on Madison@25

21 Mar,2013

Madison was already being acknowledged for its ‘media capabilities’, when it participated in and won a pitch for Procter & Gamble Media AoR in 1995. This was the beginning of business of Media AOR in India.


Vivek Bali, then, was at the helm of marketing affairs at Procter & Gamble India.


MR Bali, currently Director, ANV Consulting Pte Ltd, Singapore, still has a vivid memory of the first media AoR pitch in India, his experience of working with Madison Media and of course the media magician Sam Balsara – and also the making of the first afternoon soap on Doordarshan, ‘Shanti.’


In this short but vibrant trip down memory lane, Bali reminisces about this and more.


As the head of Marketing Services at P&G, I worked very closely with Sam for many years, after we appointed Madison as our Media buying AOR in 1995. Out of the four agencies that pitched for the business, Madison stood out due to Sam’s hands-on approach and ability to get things done despite all odds. We were looking for an agency that could shape the media environment, rather than optimize within the monopolistic constraints of Doordarshan (DD). Madison’s spectacular growth over the years proves that it has continued to evolve and master the intricacies of India’s disruptive media scenario.


Sam has many outstanding qualities that have made him extremely successful. For me, the two that stand out are “the ability to build a connection with people at all levels” and “overcoming obstacles”. We used to go to DD in Delhi very often to convince the Director General to open an afternoon slot. Sam knew virtually everyone over there, right from the security guards to the office peons to the DG. It is unimaginable now, but we were told DD was not interested in making money through advertisements. After many presentations and meetings we finally convinced them to start on an experimental basis with “Shanti” (jointly produced by UTV, Madison and P&G). The programme was very successful and established the afternoon slot. This is just one example of how Sam was instrumental in changing the media scenario that benefitted P&G and other companies.


P&G’s media department used to set a “savings target” for Madison’s media team. The target was reviewed every quarter. Sam made it a point to attend the reviews despite many other commitments and his active involvement ensured that the target was beaten every year.


As Madison celebrates its highly successful 25 years, I wish all of them the very best for the next 25 years.


Vivek Bali is a practitioner turned consultant with over 21 years of FMCG industry experience. An MBA from the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, he worked with Procter and Gamble in India and Thailand. In India he headed the Hair Care Category group and in Thailand was the Customer Team leader for Big C/Casino.


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