Remembering FCB Ulka’s Anil Kapoor

Passionate adman: ‘His philosophy was you should know the client’s brand better than the client.’Special Arrangement   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Legendary adman and former Chairman of FCB Ulka, Anil ‘Billy’ Kapoor passed away on Monday, aged 74.

In over three decades at the helm, he transformed an ailing Ulka Advertising into a flourishing agency that worked closely at the strategic level with a host of brands. Amul, Santoor, Tata Indica are some of the brands that Ulka has a long-standing relationship with.

He oversaw the merger of Ulka with Foote, Cone & Belding (FCB) while also ensuring that the global agency retained the Ulka (shooting star in Sanskrit) name.

“His razor sharp mind would first interrogate the business model and product delivery before thinking of communication, getting many a client to re-evaluate their marketing strategies,” says FCB India’s Group Chairman and CEO Rohit Ohri.

Ambi Parameswaran, former CEO, FCB Ulka, says Kapoor believed very strongly in the need for agencies to partner with CXO-level officials. “We were taught to engage with the senior-most level in an organisation as advertising is not to be left to the discretion of junior brand managers,” he recalls. “His whole philosophy was you should know the client’s brand better than the client themselves which means you got to do enough spadework so you can guide the client on what to do with the brand,” adds Parameswaran.

Amul, which has been FCB Ulka’s client for over three decades, honoured Kapoor in an ad with a typical punchline: ‘You will always be part of our Famuly!’

Kapoor’s engagement with Amul started in 1988, when Verghese Kurien asked him to re-energise Amulya, a dairy whitener, which faced stiff competition from Nestle’s EveryDay. Kapoor had just taken over the reins from founder, Bal Mundkur.

Recalling Kapoor’s engagement with the dairy cooperative, R.S. Sodhi, Managing Director, Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation, says, “There was a clear difference between Kapoor and any other advertising head. In those days, agencies were headed by people from creative areas. But, Kapoor was the man who had come from marketing and sales to advertising.”

It was during Kapoor’s time that Amul’s iconic tag line ‘Amul: The Taste of India’ was coined and endures even today.

The article earlier said Anil Kapoor passed away on Sunday. It has been corrected to Monday. The error is regretted.

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Printable version | May 6, 2021 10:34:11 PM |

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