By Invitation: Jaisurya Das on what makes Team Times Response tick

14 Jul,2017

 

The Times of India wasn’t the hottest paper in Mumbai or Delhi until the late 1980s. Although the newspaper had stalwarts as its editors and business heads, The Indian Express and Hindustan Times ruled Mumbai and Delhi amongst English newspapers. But around the time the newspaper celebrated its 150 years – sesquicentennial as it called it, things changed for what was disparaging referred to as the Old Lady of Boribunder.

And as the fortunes began to favour the paper, it rechristened the adsales department as Response. The message sent with this name-change was simple: advertise in the TOI group, and you get the response.

Over the years, the Response team – under the leadership of Pradeep Guha and several other ‘maharathis’ of Indian media – has grown to be a very well-oiled, well-knit unit. As media-watchers, we have observed this very closely and salute the camaraderie that exists, quite like that with the alumni of a B-School. Ex-Response team members are always around to help each other in their professional and personal pursuits. So what if they were fierce competitors when they were part of Team Response.

Over the last few weeks, there has been a buzz about a congregation of old (and current) Response colleagues. It’s scheduled to happen on Sunday, July 16, in Mumbai.MxMIndia invited columnist and Contributing Editor Jaisurya Das to write this account of what made(and makes) Team Response tick:

 

By Jaisurya Das

In less than 48 hours from now, over 250 media, entertainment and advertising professionals will congregate at a not-so-happening mall in South Central Mumbai.

No, this isn’t a convention of sorts, this is all of what one word can bring together :  ‘ Response ‘ for the fraternity and advertising sales for the rest, this amazingly close knit group is a case study by itself.

There is nothing like this breed.

They are fiercely loyal, bitch brazenly and yet work like a flash mob when it is their calling.  I have often wondered, as to what, keeps this humungous group of people together. Is it one man, machine or the sheer passion to excel.

I never could opine on this when I was part of the system and a loyal soldier myself, but today, it is a different story; A story that is waiting to be told.

From the days of large rusty Godrej tables, manual scheduling registers and the much greying ‘old school’ leaders, to spanking new offices, infrastructure and a leader that brought fame, fortune and chutzpah to the game…

This, Ladies and Gentleman is Times Response !

It has stood the test of time, literally, and yet there is something that makes it tick.

Is it the perceivable sycophancy of a majority or just sheer bonhomie that keeps this amazing set of individuals together?

Pradeep Guha

What has to be said, must be said and no matter what media professionals, companies and principal shareholders feel, if there is any one force that has brought about sea-change in the business of media sales, it is Pradeep Guha.

For a lot of people, he is nothing short of a deity who has powered their lives, fortunes and careers by his sheer pre-eminence.

For others, a true mentor and a wonderful leader to work with, PG, as he is affectionately called, changed the way the business is done and gave it the much-needed sex appeal and zip that empowered his team of loyalists with confidence and a characteristic élan.

PG moved and so did several hundreds of people in Response across the country. TOI moved on as well and they only grew albeit a few hiccups and bad PR in the process.

What remained untouched was a fine bond, that no one could explain..

Having interacted with sales teams across very many media companies, I can say with vehemence that there can never be a clone. Response as I knew it, was an institution by itself!

Characterised by die-hard conviction and the amazing ability to multitask, be it organising world class events or just securing a campaign, this one department did it all..

Pradeep Guha and his amazing secretariat that was aptly termed ‘Response Corporate’ remained the first and final word in this business. Yours truly has had the good fortune to have worked very closely with this formidable inner-circle on various initiatives that also paved the way for great bonds and lasting memories..

Memories of a time that will probably never return.

But for now, it will be bonhomie and fun all the way for 250-plus people who come together if only to get some 90 seconds for a warm hug..

A hug, that will in the future, be the hallmark of the response that was and hopefully will be. Amen.

 

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