It is a mad ad world

BORN INTO a family of bureaucrats, joining a management career and then making it big at a young age in the fast-paced world of advertising. That has been the career graph of Sandeep Goyal.

His just released book, The Dum Dum Bullet, chronicles his exciting time in advertising with enough "masala" thrown in in the form of his encounters, often amusing, with glamorous models and Bollywood stars.

Sandeep was emphatic that the print media had its place in advertising. "The product category often decides the medium. If you want to sell, say a top end car such as Toyota or Honda, the print media helps... a 30 second slot on TV can tell only so much and not more. Or an office automation product, the ad in print can explain a lot more to a potential buyer. A newspaper or a magazine is read for a fairly long time by an executive on a flight," he says.

Advertising has gone through many changes reflecting the changes in the country's economic scene, he says. "The opening up of the economy has brought in many global brands. Interestingly enough, before liberalisation, even global brands such as Nestle and Unilever were considered Indian. When you buy a can of Dalda, you hardly think of it coming from an MNC, do you?"

More cars, motorbikes, home appliances, fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) brands have all given the Indian consumer more of a choice. Competing in such a market has also meant that "despite being global you have to think local... advertisements now use the local idiom and local models to sell a global brand such as Coca Cola. This localisation of global brands has certainly changed the world of advertising," he says. Midway through his advertising career, Sandeep was presented with a new kind of challenge, one he was actively seeking. He became Group CEO of Zee Telefilms broadcasting business. Today, he is chairman of the two communication and marketing agencies of Dentsu, part of a global giant.

During his days in advertising and TV, Sandeep literally rubbed shoulders with the glam biz. His book has amusing anecdotes about Sushmita Sen, Mahima Choudhary, Madhu Sapre and Ruby Bhatia. Also Dharmendra, Sunny Deol (he calls them Deol senior and junior) and Salman Khan. "It is a different world altogether," is all that he will say but the book gives more. In writing about the world of glamour and show biz "I have tried to observe and not judge," he adds.

Among the incidents detailed in his book is the one about how something as prosaic as marketing a paint could end up in a brush with the world of glamour.

The agency he was with then handled the Goodlass paints account. "`The most fun job I did in Goodlass was the annual `girlie calendar.'

Every year, Goodlass invested in a slightly naughty calendar to titillate its constituency of dealers and painters," he says. Part of the calendar was "a female model dressed, well, interestingly," as he put it.

The calendar was shot with the four hottest models of the time: Anna Bredmeyer, Sangeeta Bijlani, Kitu Gidwani and Monica Roychowdhury (daughter of Jagjit Singh-Chitra) and it turned out to be a stunner. Usually 10,000 calendars were given away free. This time Sandeep thought of sending a "proof" to the dealers. Sets of 100 calendars with the name of the dealer would be custom printed at 50 per cent of the production cost.

"My target was to sell 25,000 calendars. Within the first week, the order crossed two lakhs and within a month 10 lakhs. With those numbers, the cost came down drastically and instead of subsidising half the cost, we were actually making a small profit," he adds.

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