IIM, Lucknow Students Get Flavour of Indian Advertising From Mr. R. Balakrishnan (Balki)

 | July 28,2010 06:39 pm IST

The IIMs have played host to many a CEO and budding entrepreneur in the past – learning the latest in management trends across the traditional industry verticals.


Tuesday evening came as a welcome refresher when IIM Lucknow invited one of the most creative minds of the country - R.

Balakrishnan, aka R. Balki for an interactive session with its MBA students. An Ad Film Professional-turned-Film Director par excellence, Balki is the Chairperson and Chief Creative Officer (CCO) of Lowe Lintas and the director of Cheeni Kum and Paa.


Balki is known for his no-nonsense approach to advertising and his “Daag Achche Hain” campaign for Surf Excel is a case in point. His “Jaago Re” ads for Tata Tea and “Walk when you Talk” Idea Cellular campaign have brought in a much needed fresh social voice to advertising. His penchant for exploring different creative avenues led him to Bollywood in 2007. He wrote and directed Cheeni Kum, with Amitabh Bachchan and Tabu in the lead. Paa (2009), starring Abhishek Bachchan, Vidya Balan and Amitabh Bachchan was his second directorial venture.


The interactive talk was held on campus as part of ‘Prodigies – the Leadership talk series’ facilitated by the student run Industry Interaction Cell of IIM Lucknow. Based on the theme of ‘Ad & Film Making – Through the Management Lens’, it was very well received by the IIM Lucknow community with a jam-packed auditorium. From the Tanishq to Idea, Surf to Havell, Balki had the audience floored with his anecdotes and insights on these brands. Over the course of an hour and a half, he took the students through his journey of ad making, playing out different ads and explaining their significance, story board and the like.


The session gave the students a flavour of how the Indian advertising industry works in general and how Lowe Lintas, with Mr. Balki at the helm, succeeded in producing top-notch, eye-catching ads. “If an advertisement does not make you interested in the product, then it is just a piece of good filming not a good ad”. Highlighting the nuances of designing integrated ad-campaigns, he shared his perspective on the changing consumer behaviour in India which throws up new challenges to today’s marketers. In response to a student’s question on ad failures and successes he said “Learn from experiences that have worked best for you, success trains you and makes you strive for more”. He also discussed with the students how the downturn and recession had actually affected the marketing ideas and budgets. The students were particularly amazed about his experiences as a director to some of the most noted actors in Bollywood.


Away from all the shine and success, Balki shared some stories from his personal life which left the audience wanting for more. Commenting on the talk, Dheeraj Sarwaiya, a second year student said, “Today’s MBA student is more enterprising and bold than ever before. We have students who choose not to tread the beaten path but simply follow their dreams in unconventional fields. These talks are a good source of inspiration for us to pursue what we truly believe in.”


IIM Lucknow regularly invites leaders and industry stalwarts to campus to interact with its students. Some of the noted speakers last year were Mr. Ajit Balakrishnan – CEO Rediff.com, Ms Kalpana Morparia – CEO JPMorgan, Ms Meera Sanyal – Country Head ABN Amro/RBS, Mr Sundar Raman - CEO Indian Premier League, Dr Biswadip Mitra – MD, Texas Instruments, Mr Sandeep Pandey - Magsaysay Award Winner and Dr Wilfried Aulbur - CEO, Mercedes Benz India. Balki’s talk sure adds a new feather to IIM Lucknow’s pursuit of excellence and holistic development.