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My story: How I came to advertising – and Lintas

Sudha Natrajan stepped down as CEO of Lintas Initiative Media last year after a 20+ year stint to set up her own media consultancy, and TMC, the only cafe/pub for the advertising, media and marketing fraternity. As she recalls, the beer served in the Lintas canteen those days after 6 PM made it the coolest agency to work for!

March 5, 2013

Sudha Natrajan

While doing my MMS at Bombay, 20 years ago, we used to regularly have guest lecturers. I vividly remember the talk Sam Balsara gave us. At that time it was Madison the creative agency, the media agency happened much later. The smartest HR professional who came by, giving us pre-placement talks, was a lady called Vivian D'Souza. She was the HR head of Lintas. This was during a time when Lintas was the only agency in India that even had an HR department. She sold the agency (officially) big time to us. But the selling on the agency had already happened through seniors who had got placed there before. It was the agency with a lot of attitude, had a bit of a cult following. Those were the times it was headed by the maverick creative genius Alyque Padamsee, and it was the only agency to be seen in. HTA (now JWT) was considered a bit boring and large, and O&M was still a small creative house then.

So Lintas it was. And, the most important reason for Lintas being an exciting place was the fact that those days the canteen would serve beer to all, post 6 PM! That was a huge incentive, and we all felt that Lintas was the coolest agency to be in.

So, this pre-sell happened at a time when I had no intentions of pursuing a career in advertising at all. It was going to be marketing all the way. From campus I joined Parle Products, in Product management, and spent my first four years there. Just when I was switching jobs to another large, this time MNC, FMCG company, I had to move to Chennai for personal reasons. A marketing career in Chennai did not sound interesting enough for me, as all marketing of importance was located only in Bombay, as it used to be called then. So I decided to move into an MNC agency for the couple of years I had to spend in Chennai, as a stop-gap arrangement. While I was deciding on which agencies to apply to, all the discussions amongst my batchies during my MMS came back to my mind, and I approached Lintas. I did not even consider applying to any other agency.

Well, the rest is history; I got accepted post a short chat over the phone, and joined in Account Planning in Lintas Chennai. I spent four years there, before moving to Bangalore. I shifted disciplines, moved into media, to head Initiative Media - South, based in Bangalore. At last count I had completed 17 years in Lintas. The bug bit me, and badly! I enjoyed my 17 years in Lintas so much that it did not feel like a long duration at all. I kept changing disciplines, locations. Kept growing fast, with newer and newer challenges being thrown at me as bait. I thoroughly enjoyed myself at Lintas.

Well, after 20+ years, I have now turned into an entrepreneur. I was very sure that if I ever left Lintas, it would never be for another agency. So, I finally left as the CEO of Lintas Initiative Media to set up my own Strategic Consulting Practice (along with my partner, Raghav Subramanian), called The Media Consultants. And, just to infuse some excitement into our work lives, we also set up a cafe/pub for the advertising, media and marketing fraternity called 'The Media Cafe' in Gurgaon.

If the beer after 6 PM in the Lintas canteen was a big draw then, well, TMC too serves a lot of chilled beer.

There are great untold stories in advertising. If you know of any ad professional who came into the profession by chance or because of unusual circumstances, do let us know so that we can profile him. Write to us at

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