Balki and his undeniable legacy

10 Aug,2016



By Vikas Mehta


The news came out of the blue but it was not surprising. Balki had decided to leave advertising and focus on Films.


What Piyush has done to Ogilvy, Balki has done the same and more to Lowe Lintas. Lintas as it was known then, was big and had produced effective advertising that yielded result in the marketplace. It was not necessarily spectacular neither was it all memorable. In fact before Balki came on the scene, Lintas was known to be the Lever agency and its work was a result more of the Unilever culture than anything else.


Balki almost singlehandedly changed that. I don’t know if his coming helped Unilever change its advertising culture or it was just a coincidence that Balki came at the same time when Unilever decided to reengineer its advertising but Balki was the driving force in Hindustan Unilever and thus Lintas moved into the realm of effective, insightful and memorable advertising.


To me, both Balki and Piyush made two big contributions to Indian advertising. One, effective advertising or advertising that yields results need not be boring or formulaic. And the second was both gave an Indian idiom to advertising. So while Lintas had produced Liril and Cherry Charlie, two great advertising campaigns of the 1980s, the Lowe Lintas that Balki fashioned gave Indian advertising gems such as Surf Excel, Tata Tea, Idea, Havell, Lifebuoy, Pepsodent and many more.


But the one area where I personally think Balki went further ahead was the area of creative focus.  At a time when advertising awards were becoming not only important but were also catching the fancy of the Indian marketing and communication community, when any self-respecting creative wanted global awards on his resume, Balki took the bold step of declaring that for Lintas the only awards would be the marketplace and consumer acceptance. He channelised creative energy to make memorable pieces of communication which delivered effective results.


He did not worry about losing creative people who craved awards. Because he motivated and gave focus to his people that the best award is the marketplace award.


And that is the biggest legacy he is leaving behind at Lintas. People who create communication which is effective, which does its job, which is rooted in real insights and which win the ultimate award. Acceptance by the consumer.


Vikas Mehta is a communications veteran having worked with Lowe, JWT & Havas in India, Middle East, Far East & North Africa. He has worked on global, regional and local mandates across a spectrum of clients like Unilever, Hero, Philips, Sony, J&J, GSK, Bajaj Auto etc. Currently he is on his own discovering the true Bharat while becoming a student by teaching them at various management institutes.


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