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RIP Mike Khanna: Ad man bids adieu forever

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MUMBAI: Indian ad fraternity’s father figure Mahinder K. Khanna familiar as Mike Khanna, who captained the titanic transition of Hindustan Thomson Associates (HTA) into J Walter Thomson (JWT) breathed his last on 7 June, 2015 at the age 76. Khanna had been unwell for some time.

The entire business fraternity will speak highly about the numbers that he managed to secured as a leader of HTA first in Delhi and then in Mumbai but his achievements are way beyond those numbers. 

Defining Khanna’s persona, HTA former national creative director Ivan Arthur writes, “And those who do not know him will have visions of a man like some others with similar achievements, men who draw attention to their success with big flourishes of the corporate wand and the abracadabra of individual style. With Mike there were 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. You looked in awe. And there he was, unimpressed with his own magic, intent on just dealing you those aces.”

Arthur further adds in his blog, “A creative director will tell you how, on the occasion of the global CEO’s visit, her presentation was delayed by an hour, and how Mike went up to her, put his hand on her shoulder and said, Relax. This is not the end of the worldI could have kissed him then, she said. But I went about getting the job done. An office manager narrates how on his wife’s birthday, he had invited Mike home for dinner, at which he demonstrated the five-finger-and-palm bhangra clap.”

In 2005 Khanna decided to hang up his professional boots and was replaced by Colvyn Harris as JWT India’s CEO. In January 2015, following Harris’ appointment as executive director for global growth and client development Tarun Rai was handed over the post of CEO of J. Walter Thompson South Asia.

Under Khanna’s leadership, HTA represented some of India’s biggest brands like Hero, Pepsi, several Unilever brands, and Air India.

“The freedom to try and fail. A strong sense of self-worth, fairness, integrity, leadership, challenge, A sense of fun. Aces that they hold close to their chest. Aces that have led them to where they are today. Many are now happily retired and a good number are CEOs, chairmen of companies and leaders in their fields. They are all of them echoing one line, I am what I am today because of Mike,” concludes Arthur.

We at Indiantelevision.com deeply mourn the passing away of this maverick ad man. RIP Mike Khanna (1939 - 2015).

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