RIP, Goutam Rakshit

01 Apr,2020


For 38 years, Goutam Rakshit ran Advertising Avenues before turning a full-time consultant and strategic advisor to SMEs, start-ups and all those daring to be different. Advertising Avenues was one of the hottest agencies in India and was indeed the envy of every asperson from when it started its journey in 1982.  After an MBA from Jamnalal Bajaj Institute in Mumbai, Rakshit joined Cadbury’s (now Mondelez) and then moved on to Clarion before starting Advertising Avenues in 1982. The rest as they say is history. His role with industry associations is well-known and he ensured Indian advertising was recognised the world over. Rakshit breathed his last in Mumbai. He was 71. A prayer meeting will be held post the National Lockdown.


Goutam Rakshit, advertising leader and doyen no more


By Ramesh Narayan


To say that Goutam Rakshit was a multi-faceted person is far from a cliche.


As an advertising professional he was one of the finest minds this industry had.


After early stints in Cadbury’s (where he mentored young men like Sam Balsara), to Clarion, to founding an independent advertising agency, Advertising Avenues, Goutam was one of the most sought-after professionals of his time.


Avenues, as it was called, was run by Goutam, Ashok (the wordsmith) Roy and Gopi (the art genius) Kukde.


And the three created advertising history. Of course the best known campaign was ‘Neighbour’s Envy, Owner’s Pride’ for Onida TV’s where he literally broke all accepted norms, used a negative emotion like envy, a brilliant caricature of the Devil and smashed a TV screen (no bad luck) to propel the relatively unknown Onida brand to the status of a leader. And his Agency to the top of the Abby Awards charts.


But it wasn’t just Onida that broke away from the norm VIP Frenchie had this well-built man dressed in nothing but his underwear rescuing a young lady on a high street, while a headline boldly said “If you think this is stretching things too far… You should see the product”.


UFO jeans showed a label lit up by the flame of a lighter that showed a headline “Statutory Warning. Not having this label on your jeans could be injurious to your ego”.


The magic of Gopi and Ashok, held together by the glue that Goutam was, showed itself in the launch of TNT Skypak in a fabulous comic-caricature series.


I could go on. From Feelings women’s innerwear to Akai Bush from Today contraceptives to Skybags and Royal Toothbrush, Advertising Avenues lorded it over the advertising scene in the late eighties and the nineties.


And there was Goutam Rakshit, the industryperson. Three times President of the AAAI, President of the ABC and ASCI. His relationships with the media bosses was legendary. He didn’t need AAAI and INS to help recover his dues in one famous case. Pradeep Guha and N Murali were sufficient. And then the President of the Asian Federation of Advertising Associations (AFAA) when the historic AdAsia was held in Jaipur. He was also a three-times Chairman of the Judging Committee of the Abby Awards when it was the property of the Advertising Club.


But all this wouldn’t do justice to Goutam, the man. Affable, witty, mischievous but never malicious, very wise, a great friend and a wonderful human being.


I was privileged to write the Citation when he was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Advertising Agencies Association of India. It breaks my heart to write this tribute to my friend.


Goodbye, Amader Chairman!


By Bharat Kapadia


It was around 7.30pm on March 6, 2020. Goutam opened the door and welcomed me with his signature smile and warmth at his Jeevan Asha building apartment on Peddar Road. He hugged me and congratulated me for completing my first full marathon and told his grandson proudly: ‘Uncle can make you run 42kms…’. As always, he would put others before him.


He was in good mood to talk about the consultancy he had started and went into a flashback saying: “I was doing quite well at Cadbury’s but was always wanted to be on my own as routine was getting quite boring. I went to Subroto Sen and revealed my desire to start something independently. He had started Clarion Advertising agency along with stalwarts like Tara Sinha, film director Satyajit Ray and S N Banerji after the British agency D J Keymer shut shop.”


“He told me to join and I entered the ad agency business,” Goutam said, adding:


“Although intially I was hesitant and told him that I know nothing about ad agency business. And then Subroto smiled and said: ‘You have been on the other side of the table and you will do well this site too!’ Every few months, I would go to Subroto and tell him that I was feeling the same stagnancy as I had felt in Cadbury’s, he would ask me to hang on for a while.”


Goutam was in a mood to reminisce. “I learnt a lot from him and colleagues about the Indian ethos and how ad strategies would work for different products in changing Indian market. Years later, I ventured on my own and launched Advertising Avenues along with Ashok Roy.”


He then spoke about the legendary Onida campaign which broke all rules and also the records of achievements. “Do you know, Mr Mirchandani of Onida was very reluctant about the devil concept? But after we convinced him there was no looking back.”


He narrated his journey and we were almost lost in some of splendid stories till his wife came and politely asked: “What will you have?’’..


We spoke for hours and he said next time we meet, I’ll introduce you to my clients..


Besides his iconic campaigns and successful ad agency business he also represented ad fraternity in many avtaars. He was the first Indian Chaiman of AFAA (Asian Federation of Advertising Associations) and ever since we used to fondly address him as ‘Amader Chairman!’ (or Our Chairman, in Bangla).


This early morning when I hear he is no more, I couldn’t believe the news. Goutam, in this lockdown, no one is supposed to leave the house and you left Jeevan Asha to go to another world? Not done!


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