Nagesh Alai, Shashi Sinha & Ambi Parameswaran on Anil Kapoor

13 Apr,2021

Anil Kapoor, Chairman Emeritus, FCB Ulka, passed away in Mumbai on Monday after a prolonged illness.  


A little about Kapoor from our archives and courtesy the Ulka website: His love for challenges saw him taking charge of Draftfcb+Ulka (Ulka Advertising, at the time), turning it into the fastest growing agency in India and taking its rightful place as one of the ‘Big Five’. With the formation of Draftfcb in 2006, Mr Kapoor was appointed as Draftfcb President with responsibility for Asia-Pacific region and Africa.


He was appointed Chairman Emeritus of Draftfcb + Ulka, after a 22-year stint with the company and its other associated agencies. As one who is known to make things happen, his role expanded naturally into industry bodies. He is a Past President of the Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI), the Chairman of the Audit Bureau of Circulation of 2007-08 and was also on the Management Board of the National Readership Survey and the Television Audience Measurement Research. He was also on the Editorial Advisory Board of The Economic Times. In May 2002, Mr Kapoor was also inducted into the Foote, Cone & Belding’s Worldwide Board.


Before joining Draftfcb+Ulka Kapoor was with the Boots Company, India, for 14 years, where, as the Marketing Director, he launched a string of brands, all of which went on to become No. 1 in their markets. At Boots, he also set up two field forces, one for consumer products and the other for ethical pharmaceutical products. Before that, he was with the legendary agency MCM and though not the cause, he says he had to preside over its closure – quite a learning experience! Kapoor grew up in Delhi and graduated with a BA in English Literature from St. Stephen’s College, Delhi and then did his MBA from the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad.


When we spoke with some of his closest aides from Ulka (and even earlier), most felt too devastated to share a long tribute. While we were able to catch a quote from veteran adperson Nagesh Alai, the quotes from Ambi Parameswaran and Shashi Sinha are from an article we had done in September 2013 when Kapoor was felicitated with the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Advertising Agencies Association of India. 


Nagesh Alai

Nagesh Alai

Veteran adperson, business advisor and columnist


A vision of purpose and a mission of execution was the hallmark of a man called Anil Kapoor. A huge banyan tree under whom everybody flourished. Quite simply,  Ulka shone brighter because of his effulgence. A true leader who will be sorely missed by legions of people and brands. The advertising and marketing fraternity have lost a doyen…. Anil was a wonderful persona of a tough exterior and a soft interior who would go out of the way to help people close to him. He was a mentor par excellence. A void difficult to fill.



Shashi Sinha

Shashi Sinha

CEO, IPG Mediabrands and Lodestar UM


They don’t make people like Anil Kapoor these days.


I have had the good pleasure of working with Draftfcb+Ulka a few years before he joined the agency from a strong client background. In fact that possibly ensured that he was very focused on deliveries.  As someone who helmed the agency for many years and even now as Chairman Emeritus, we and our clients included have always known him to be a no-nonsense man. Forthright, never into any frivolous conversation. He was always focused on the task on hand.


He had a keen eye on the business and would actively engage with all his clients.  Even now when some of us meet him, his observations are pertinent to the business and may I say: bang-on. Anil Kapoor has always been an excellent people manager considering his team has been together for so long.


I have always had an excellent rapport with him and have found in him a Guru whom I admire and respect.


Ambi ParameswaranAmbi Parameswaran

Veteran adperson, author and columnist


I have worked with Anil Kapoor for over two decades and I have seen him in various roles, as Head of Marketing of a large British multinational, as a CEO of a pioneering media company and as a CEO of a struggling ad agency. One thing that defines him is his ‘Never Say Die’ attitude. When he joined Ulka no one thought he had a chance of saving an agency that was fast sinking. In fact someone who is revered in advertising world even told me that I was mad to join Anil Kapoor in his mission of saving an ailing Indian agency. Anil proved all his detractors wrong though his passion, attitude and commitment to the cause. He also showed the industry how to build a strong team and keep it together for two decades. How to build an agency group entirely from within, and without the help of international experts and hand-me-down accounts. He demonstrated how to partner clients at senior levels to launch one successful brand after another,  in tough market conditions. As Ulka became FCB Ulka and later DraftFCB Ulka, his managerial and leadership skills got recognized on the global stage, many times over.


Anil Kapoor, who was seen as an outsider in the Industry, was soon accepted as an equal and may be as a ‘more than an equal’. He went on to play leadership role in various industry bodies such as AAAI and ABC. He was instrumental in setting up the independent NRS survey in the mid-’90s. He also played a very vital role in helping the formation of IBF as a body that could work with AAAI to create norms and processes on how agencies work with television.


We don’t have too many people in advertising industry today who can fill his shoes.


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