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Ashish Bhasin remembers peerless ad man Alyque Padamsee

24 Nov 2018

Padmashri Alyque Padamsee left the entire Indian Advertising and theatre industry in shock. He will be deeply remembered for creating and building some of the most wonderful brands and advertisements such as Liril, Humara Bajaj, Cherry Blossom Shoe Polish, MRF, Surf and many more. He was regarded as the Father of Modern Indian Advertising. He was an accomplished actor too, and played Jinnah in Richard Atten borough’s film Gandhi. These are just a handful of achievements belonging to the great Ad Man.

We caught up with the well-known and highly respected Ashish Bhasin, Chairman and CEO – South Asia, Denstu Aegis Network, for his tribute to the great Alyque Padamsee. He shared some fond memories of his earlier days, the Ad club review, and a lot more.

Read on, as narrated by Ashish Bhasin

Alyque was always someone who was larger than life. He had an amazing ability to multi-task. On the one hand, he was running a very large agency, Lintas, which was amongst the top agencies then. On the other hand, he was one of the most successful theatre personalities. Not 0nly that, he was a part of the Rajiv Gandhi Advisory Councilp which was a peace committee that had formed during the riots which took place. He was a part of a hundred other things, many a times simultaneously, but had the energy to do all of that with equal excellence. I think that’s a big learning for all of us.

I had the privilege to work with him pretty closely because I was working on the iconic brand, Liril which was very close to his heart. Alyque and ShunuSen, who was at the client end, were the fathers of Liril in every sense. Every small thing needed Alyque’s clearance. Even though I was much junior, I had the opportunity to interact with him because of Liril. I think every interaction with him was a learning.

A perfectionist

His eye for detail was just amazing, maybe because of his theatre and acting background. 

One of the things he used to insist on was to go through the checklist for every small possible detail. He always made sure that it was absolutely perfect and there was no compromise for even one percent. 

He was very particular, whether it was a presentation, a conference, a launch — it just had to be perfect. Personally, I picked up a lot of leanings in that way.

Ad Club Review

Speaking of theatre, even a presentation for him became theatre.

Many years ago, he did an Ad review for the Ad Club. Never before or never after was an Ad Club Annual Ad review done in that way. 

In the last several decades, the one review I can remember, was the one he did. He had the ability to make it interactive with a thousand people in the audience. 

I remember he had left bats on all our chairs, one side was red in color and the other side in green. He would ask if the Ad was good or bad. If it was good, we were supposed to give a green signal or a red. Simultaneously, he was able to involve a thousand people. 

I remember there was Lalita Ji throwing water on him from the stage, with full drama and Alyque’s voice theatricals. It was so good that the Ad Club review was carried out across every major city in India. 

Even today, after 30 years later, I remember that review more fondly than any other review of the Ad club.

Lintas: AlyquePadamsee’s Agency

Alyque was extremely confident. He had this vision that Lintas should become number one. He actually took an ad out in the papers about the same. The elevator door in the Express Towers, on the 15th floor had Number 1 written on it. When the door opened and closed, one could see the number 1. He sort of went to town announcing that Lintas had become number 1. 

I think the biggest compliment to him is that for several decades he was the face of Advertising. Someone who had worked in Lintas would know the agency as Alyque Padamsee’s agency. 

If you have seen the Ad which Lintas has done in which the letter ‘A’ is missing from the word ‘LINTAS’, I think that shows how significantly Alyque will be missed, not just by Lintas and the many people who were with Lintas back then but the whole advertising industry.

He shaped a lot of careers back then, and besides shaping careers, I feel anybody who interacted with him learnt something from him. I was very junior and I had to go to him for any and every little clearance on Liril. And anybody he interacted with, he left an indelible mark on them. 

He got advertising upfront and into public consumption. 

I don’t think there ever was or ever has been since him, an advertising person as well-known as he was. I think he was one of the first advertising Padmashris.

The advertising industry will miss Alyque Padamsee.