Industry remembers Shunu Sen

NEW DELHI/MUMBAI: An irreparable loss was the common refrain among marketing and media professionals today to the passing away of industry doyen Shunu Sen.

Said Suhel Seth, chief executive of Equus Red Cell, a Delhi-based ad firm, "Shunu was such a superb personality that it is difficult to envisage a future without him, without his wisecracks and, of course, without his penetrative understanding of the market and its mechanics."

The flamboyant Seth, who has also tried his hand at TV when he hosted `Aap Jo Kahen Haan To Haan.' on Zee TV, added, "I always looked forward to meet Shunu because every meeting was an education in itself."

And Seth should know because he has worked closely with Shunu in recent years. Sen was also the non-executive chairman of Equus Red Cell. "There are many instances, including our board meetings, when he has guided us with his vast experience which will be brutally missed."

Another person who had worked quite closely with Sen on various accounts is Subrato Chakraborty, the Delhi head of RMG David, an advertising firm that is managed in India by O&M.

"Sen will be missed because of the incisive logic which he used to bring into play. His logic to any situation could not be ignored. You may agree or disagree with him, but you just could not overlook the power of his logic and reasoning," Chakraborty opined, adding that he had worked with Sen on at least three accounts.

Moreover, according to Chakraborty, Sen always was firmly rooted into reality which surfaced in seminars, etc. "In seminars there are times when speakers do go overboard, but if Sen was there, then he would always bring them back to reality by his prudence," he added.

Though some did find Sen arrogant, but his brilliance always overshadowed his other idiosyncrasies. "When you get through the (working) style to see the content, you will always say that Sen was brilliant," Chakraborty gushed.

Former vice-president of TBWA Anthem, Viren Razdan, who collaborated with Sen on the Reebok account, also thinks that Sen's experience in marketing will be sorely missed. "More so because it was not confined to a sector, but cut across all sectors."

Sony Entertainment Television senior V-P - sales Abraham Thomas, who had the good fortune to interact with Shunu very early in his career, had this to say about the man. "His ability to simplify the most complex of scenarios into a very basic theoretical framework, was simply amazing."

Recounting an encounter with the great man at the start of his career (which was in retailing), Abraham said Shunu had once walked into a supermarket he was managing at the time and designed a very succesful in-store promotion for the 1 kg pack of Surf detergent based on three minutes of questioning. The first question was what was the fastest moving Levers' product in the store. The answer: Surf 1 kg pack. Shunu's next question: what was the fastest moving non-branded item? Abraham told Shunu it was sugar. There and then he worked out a promotion wherein 1 kg Surf buyers also got a packet of sugar with their purchase. And such was Shunnu's hands on approach that he returned after two weeks to check for himself how the promo was doing, Abraham said.

CII president Ashok Soota had this to say about the marketing guru par excellence: "Besides being a legend in the field of marketing in India, Mr Sen was one of India's ablest marketing professionals, Mr. Sen was a very warm person, a man of high values, very accessible and sensitive to the needs of his associates. He was a visionary who

introduced many innovative ideas in the Indian market place and was instrumental in highlighting the importance and essence of branding in the country."

"Mr Sen was also the chairman of the CII marketing committee. His guidance and contribution to CII had been immense and invaluable . Under his able leadership, CII saw two very successful marketing summits. He also undertook the training of CII staff in marketing strategies," adds Soota, while stating that "Sen's demise was an irreparable loss to CII. Last but not the least, Mr Sen was a very courageous person, who never treated his disability (in his later years Shunu was confined to a wheelchair) as a handicap and served as a role model for many others."

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