This year’s Advertising Agencies Association of India’s (AAAI) Lifetime Achievement Award will be conferred on advertising veteran Roda Mehta. The award is the highest honour given to an individual in India for his/her outstanding contribution to the advertising industry.
Mehta played a legendary and pioneering role in establishing scientific media planning and buying in India. While doing so, she built a whole generation of media professionals for the advertising industry. Mehta joined Hindustan Thompson Associates in 1971 and became the first MBA and first woman in the media function of an advertising agency in India.
Mehta moved to Ogilvy Benson & Mather in 1975 and rose from Media Group Head to Media Controller for its Bombay Office in 1976. She represented media for the first time on the Managing Committee of the Bombay office in 1978. She was sent to London for three months to introduce account planning and research in the Indian operation in 1980 and came on the Board as Director-Media & Research in 1982. She was made President, South, in 1992, became Director-International Client Service in 1994 and Managing Consultant of the Media Network in 1996. Along the way, she pioneered outdoor planning and buying and set up a rural media network to service client requirements.
Invited on several committees and associations by the industry, including the Expert Committee on TV Marketing for Doordarshan & AIR, she was Founder Member of the Market Research Society of India (MRSI) and Founder Member and Chairperson, Technical Committee, of the Media Research Users Council (MRUC). She chaired MRUC from 1994-96. Mehta was also on the Board of several other committees, including Advisory Board, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (Govt of India) and AAAI’s Media Disputes Committee and Economic Times Advisory Panel. An avidly sought after speaker at industry conferences and seminars, she served as faculty on training programmes run by Ogilvy & Mather India and Asia Pacific.
Mehta bagged several prestigious awards, including the David Ogilvy Award for Asia Pacific & Agency of the Year Award (Public Service) 1992 for the National Literacy Mission campaign. Currently, she is associated with several non-profit organisations. She is a Trustee of the Lila Poonawalla Foundation, which provides scholarships and mentoring to economically challenged girls from Maharashtra for post-graduate, graduate/diploma and secondary school education; Board Member & Treasurer of Nagrik Chetna Manch, a citizen’s watchdog organisation on public expenditure. She administers a very active Citizens’ WhatsApp group for civic affairs of PMC Ward 21 and is a practitioner of kriya yoga.
Making the announcement, Nakul Chopra, President, AAAI stated, “Mehta is a pioneer in more ways than one. This award is well-deserved recognition for the stellar leadership she provided our industry and our eco-system for over two decades, during which time she also nurtured a whole generation of professional talent.”
Ashish Bhasin, who was Chairman of the AAAI Lifetime Achievement Award Selection Committee, said, “Mehta has single-handedly played a vital role in getting due respectability for the media function in advertising.”
Members of the selection committee for this award included Sam Balsara, Srinivasan K Swamy, Ambi Parameswaran and Chopra.
The AAAI Lifetime Achievement Award is presented annually to an individual who has been a practitioner of advertising for 25 years and been in top management position; has been or continues to be an active participant in industry bodies and/or has made significant contribution in shaping industry priorities to enable the advertising industry to grow, prosper and become more professionalised; an individual known for her/his integrity, ethical practice and leadership qualities; who contributed to her/his company’s growth by innovative thinking and change management, leading it into fewer directions; involved in projects of social consequence and seen as a role model for the industry at large.
This Award, instituted in 1988 by AAAI, has been bestowed on 24 persons so far.The AAAI Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented to Mehta on July 14, 2017 in Mumbai.
The Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI) is an official and national organization of advertising agencies, formed in 1945, to promote their interests. The association promotes professionalism, through its founding principles, which uphold sound business practices between advertisers and advertising agencies and the various media.