Draftfcb Ulka founder Bal Mundkur passes away at 86

MUMBAI: Bal Mundkur, the man who set up Ulka Advertiisng 50 years ago, succumbed to a heart attack on 7 January at his residence in Goa at the ripe age of 86.

Mundkur, who entered the advertising profession late and led on the creative front, was cremated at the St Inez crematorium on 8 January.

He joined DJ Keymer, the forerunner of today’s O&M on the first day of 1951. Ten years later, he started Ulka, which today ranks third largest advertising group in the industry.

Mundkur guided the agency to the Top 10 list in a decade, grabbing clients like ITC, Godrej, Crompton Greaves, Mukund, Ciba Geigy, Zodiac, Nerolac and Ceat.

In the 90s, Mundkur left the agency with the right team and retired from Ulka (which had become FCB Ulka, and more recently Draftfcb Ulka).

A man who spoke and created from the heart, Mundkur moved to Goa. He continued working for causes close to his heart – which included helping set up Asia’s very first Museum of Christian Art in Goa.

At 85, he set up the Centrum trust, which recently published Ad Katha, the story of Indian Advertising over the decades.

Paying his tribute to the legend, Draftfcb Ulka executive director & CEO MG Parameswaran said, "Bal Mundkur believed that advertising is a noble profession, a profession that should stand head to head with clients building brands and
business. He instilled a strong sense of pride in whatever we did, and encouraged his teams to stand up for the right causes. Bal was also a true industry visionary."

"Bal was instrumental in setting up Ad Club Bombay and had the membership number of ACB 001. His interests were wide and eclectic, antique chess sets, western classical music, conservation of old architecture of Mumbai. He was especially proud of the work Ulka had done of social causes, when pro bono work was yet to be discovered by Indian advertising agencies. It was great that he lived till his baby Ulka celebrated its 50th birthday; the proud father was there to cut the cake last year. We will miss him," Parameswaran added.

Lodestar UM CEO Shashi Singh said, "I have worked with him very closely. I was the oldest amongst the board of Draftfcb Ulka today. When he got into advertising, the industry was very small but he established Draftfcb Ulka and was bold in taking decisions. He would lead from the front and give his ideas to better creativity. He was one of the founder members of the Ad Club and has always encouraged people to build relationship with clients and get them to respect you. If they don‘t respect you then don‘t work with them.

"He was a good man and always followed his heart. He would not do anything just for money. He started advertising very late. He was in Air India as Pilot. He was 40 when he got into advertising. He started with O&M and then he founded Ulka."

"The actual growth of Draftfcb Ulka happened after Anil Kapoor came but Bal created an institution, the culture that is the best to work in. He always talked about maintaining relation with clients and the actual growth of advertising happened after 1995. Actually, after his retirement, Manmohan Singh had come up the economic scenario changed in India. Bal was a strong influence to the industry. He was actually involved in whatever he did. Though he wasn‘t associated in day to day activities of the agency but he was a legend who set up a strong base for the company."

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