Industry bids farewell to ad maverick Goutam Rakshit

He was the man behind the Onida devil of the 80’s and 90’s

MUMBAI: Who can forget the devil slithering around in his green cape and his malicious smirk in TVCs and ads to hawk Onida - a TV brand - in the eighties and nineties? And of course, the memorable catchline: “Neighbour’s envy Owner’s pride.” It was a tack not many had taken before: use a negative creature and emotions to create a positive desire in consumers to go out and purchase a television set.

The images will stay etched forever in the minds of the generation that grew up watching the Onida TVC and they cannot forget the two-horned loveable evil creature (played by David Whitbread) and the unique conceptualisation that went into making the commercial. The brand value the iconic ad created was something that those yesteryear commercials for TV could not emulate or replicate. Remembering that powerful TVC can be the right requiem one can pay to Advertising Avenues’ founder Goutam Rakshit who passed away on Tuesday morning. Rakshit fully backed his art director Gopi Kukde and the idea to use the devil to create a differentiated campaign for a little-known brand which then had just five per cent of the TV market. Within a decade or so Onida had surpassed many older brands and had captured a19-20 per cent share.

Like many others of his era, Rakshit, graduated from Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management, went on to join Cadbury as a management trainee in 1971.

He went on to set up Advertising Avenues in the year 1982, which he steered for almost four decades. The forte of his agency was its clear focus on small and medium enterprises, which did not have the luxury of availing the services of a big ad outfit. Thanks to his agency, many SMSes and brands flourished. reached out to some senior members of the advertising and marketing fraternity to pay homage to the bespectacled ad professional who preferred to keep a low profile.

Madison Communications founder-chairman-MD Sam Balsara says, “What can I say; I have lost my longest-lasting professional friend since my Cadbury days in 1975. That makes it 45 years ago. We must all thank Jaideep for giving us an opportunity to meet Gautam earlier this month at his son’s wedding where he was his cheerful best and chided me for having two parties at my house when on both occasions he was out of town with his extended family which he could not miss.  I had promised that the next party I host at my house; I will first consult his holiday calendar before fixing the date! I have followed Gautam professionally and medically. He joined Cadbury. I joined Cadbury. He left Cadbury to join the advertising agency Clarion. I left Cadbury to join Contract. He left Clarion to start his agency, Advertising Avenues. I left Mudra to start Madison. Wait there’s more. He had a bypass surgery. I followed in a few years with a bypass surgery. I will save more for the prayer meeting that we will hold once the lockdown is lifted. Vidita please take courage we are all there for you. May his soul rest in peace. Amen.”

Says Samsika Marketing Consultants CMD Jagdeep Kapoor, “Goutam Rakshit was a great professional and a dear friend. His sharp advertising mind, coupled with his grace and patience, and sprinkled with a sense of humour, was indeed unique. His humility was praiseworthy. I remember, 25 years ago, when I started Samsika Marketing, he was kind enough to come for the inauguration and pass on his good wishes, even though Samsika was a start-up and he was on top of his profession at that time. Indeed, a loss to the advertising world."

DAN's Ashish Bhasin remembers Goutam Rakshit as a true gentleman who always kept the mood of those around him light.

Expressing his grief, Bhasin says, "He was one of the last members of the generation gone by, where there were gentlemen in advertising who upheld principles. His contribution to advertising will always be remembered and losing people like him is a very sad loss for our industry."

Times of India Group president Partha Sinha, who was earlier associated with agencies like Publicis and McCann, added, “He was a very fine gentleman - a rare breed in the advertising industry. He was a thoroughly sophisticated person unfortunately, I never worked with him. A person like him raised the quality of the room when he entered. His presence will be missed."

Ogilvy chief creative officer worldwide and executive chairman India and ZEE Entertainment Enterprises independent director Piyush Pandey remembers Goutam as an extremely successful professional and a dear friend. “I was shocked to get the bad news this morning. His smiling face and a warm hug will not leave me forever. He was my senior and a competitor but he never made me realise either of the two. RIP Gautam,” he says. 

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