'RIP Mike Khanna' says the Industry
Mahinder K Khanna (Mike Khanna) the man who gave an entirely different out look to J Walter Thompson, he headed JWT for twenty years and was part of the transition of the agency from Hindustan Thomson Associates into J Walter Thomson, opening the way for internationalisation of ad business in India, died at the age of 76.
Khanna took over the reins from legendary Subhas Ghoshal in 1984, who was also responsible for many of the creative and strategic changes that happened in the ad world. But it was only during the period of Khanna that JWT become the creative hub to be reckoned with. Khanna hanged his boot in 2005 and Colvyn Harris took over as the next CEO.
He was responsible for nurturing young talents and bringing in a profound and impactful change in the entire atmosphere of JWT. Brands like Hero, Pepsi, Air India and several Unilever brands were under the wings of JWT during his time.
Speaking on his passing away, Tarun Rai, CEO, J. Walter Thompson South Asia, said, "J. Walter Thompson owes so much to Mike. And many, like me, owe their careers to him. He was a legend in Indian advertising and a great leader and motivator. For decades he and HTA (and later JWT) were synonymous. His legacy is extraordinary. He will be missed." Tarun has worked very closely with Mike during his earlier tenure with JWT.
As Ivan Arthur gave a heart-warming tribute saying “With Mike there was no flourishes, no conjurer’s patter, no abracadabra showmanship. He almost seemed like a novice with a pack of cards, slowly dealing them out, stopping to spit-wet his fingers when suddenly you would notice he has dealt you an ace. And then another and another. And there he was, unimpressed with his own magic, intent on just dealing you those aces. But the aces we are talking about are not those numbers, of billings, growth, profit or industry ranking; facts and figures that even then placed him on the throne of the advertising industry but what ‘Thompsonites’ will talk about are other aces, their own personal ones, for which they will remember him most. From secretaries, studio artists and accountants to members of the executive committee, all have poignant stories to establish their personal relationship with Mike, of how on a bad day, he sat them down, got to the heart of the problem and sent them away with a new spring in their step; of how they came to him with clenched fists over an issue with a colleague and how a cuppa tea with him would end in handshakes all round.”
He sums up the entire mood of the Industry veterans by simply pointing out “that on 7th of June all of them were holding the aces that Mike had personally dealt them they ‘can do’ spirit. People such as CEOs, chairmen of companies and leaders in their field are all echoing with one line, “I am what I am today because of Mike.”
JWT is organising an Industry tribute to Mike Khanna on Friday, June 21 from 4-6 pm at Discovery of India Bldg., (Ground Floor), Nehru Centre, Dr. Annie Besant Road, Worli, Mumbai. To pay tribute to the man who changed the entire facet of the ad industry.