RIP, Mike Khanna. Chairman Emeritus,JWT

08 Jun,2015


A Correspondent


To generations of advertising, marketing and media professionals in the country, Mike Khanna, short for Mahinder K Khanna has been an institution. Like the legendrary Subhas Ghoshal from whom he took over the reins of JWT (then HTA), Khanna was among the greats of Indian advertising who built their agency and the brands it nurtured to dizzying heights.


Veteran adperson and Chairman Emeritus, JWT, Mike Khanna passed away late Saturday at age 76. He took over the reins of JWT (then HTA) from the legendary Subhas Ghoshal in 1984 and spent over 38 years with the agency before assuming the role of Chairman Emeritus in January 2004 when he passed the baton of the CEO on to Colvyn Harris.


Khanna, always very proper and regarded as the man who ensured that HTA, and then JWT, emerged as the #1 agency in the country. Not just in size, but also in systems and processes.


Speaking on his passing, Tarun Rai, CEO, JWT said: “J Walter Thompson owes so much to Mike. And many, like me, owe their careers to him.  He was a legend in Indian advertising and a great leader and motivator. For decades, he and HTA (and later JWT) were synonymous. His legacy is extraordinary. He will be missed.” Rai worked very closely with Khanna during his earlier tenure with JWT.


Khanna, notes a JWT statement, built HTA into “not just the single largest agency in India but also one that was known to build some of the leading brands of the country”. He played an active role in industry affairs, such as the Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI) and the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI). Khanna started his professional life in market research with SSC&B, New York. An economics honours graduate, he obtained his MBA from New York University. He was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the AAAI.


There are several tributes via Twitter and Facebook, and we’d like to reproduce this by by Colvyn Harris in dna. Not only did Harris succeed him, he also worked with him closely and ensured the transition was smooth.

By Colvyn Harris

The legacy lives on Mike, in the stories we share about you. And in the  great institution you built. Many of us owe you for being mentor and guide in our professional and personal lives.

How does one tell a story of the passing away of a true legend of our times, or words to express the impact Mike had on so many.

We were blessed to have known him and his ideals and values, which still continue, and which have become the foundation of India’s finest advertising agency –  Hindustan Thompson Associates then, and now J Walter Thompson.

His belief was best articulated in an oft-used phrase which summed up our purpose so appropriately: “to build the finest company, which would stand the test of time…”.

Mike lived by human values of decency and grace, of professionalism and exactitude, and set the highest standards for us; so evident all across a company which thrives by those very values even today.

In his footsteps, generations will follow, in our company and across the advertising industry where he played  such an invaluable role.

Mike Khanna will be remembered for many aspects. The professional who was instrumental in the huge success of the company; the CEO who led us all to be what we are and what we achieved; for being the complete family man; and the charismatic and charming persona for the advertising fraternity given the man he was.

For the advertising industry, his passing leaves a huge void, as many knew him as a friend having been the generation that together built our industry.

For the professionals who walked the corridors of HTA and went on to greater success, their true inspiration was Mike.

To sum it up in Nelson Mandela’s words:

“when a man has done what he considers to be his duty…he can rest in peace”.

You will be remembered Mike.  Always.

 Colvyn Harris is now Executive Director Global Growth & Client Development at JWT

The funeral took place on Sunday afternoon in Mumbai.


Post a Comment 

Comments are closed.