Seventeen years after he sold Sista's Advertising to Saatchi (in 1998), a 30-member team from the 'Sista's parivar', all former employees of the agency, converged from different parts of India and abroad to watch their former 'boss' being honoured with the AAAI Lifetime Achievement Award for 2015.
SV (Bobby) Sista was conferred the honour instituted by the Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI) in 1988.
Dr MG Parameswaran, president, AAAI, and ED, FCB Ulka, noted that when he joined the industry in 1979, Sista's was 'the hottest agency in town'.
He added, "The AAAI Lifetime Achievement Award is 27 years old. In its first year, the award was presented to Mr Subhas Ghosal, in 1988. This year, AAAI is partnering with the Subhas Ghosal Foundation to create a Subhas Ghosal Memorial Lecture."
'Envisaged CSR long before it became buzzword'
Ashish Bhasin, member of the AAAI executive committee and chairman and CEO, Dentsu Aegis Network South Asia, read out the citation for the award bestowed on Sista. Among other things, the recognition cited his leadership of Sista's, an agency that created some of the most remarkable campaigns of its time.
Taking the audience through some of the agency’s high points, Sista spoke of SKumar's, a brand built on radio programmes and fashion shows in 40 cities; VIP luggage; and Hotshot cameras, among others.
Lending insight into the working philosophy of the agency, he noted, "All the executives knew that creative would not be overruled by the execs... or even by the client."
In his career that moved between advertising and marketing, before embracing social causes wholetime, he was guided by common sense, his 'only qualification', he quipped.
"The period from 1970 to 1998 was a happy period. Of course, (s.i.c.) there were worries, frustrations, mistakes. But on the whole, it was a happy period. In 1998, I sold to Saatchi. I quit because my heart was into social communication. My heart was set on doing what little I could."
Population First, which runs the Laadli campaign, was registered as a Trust in March 2002.
Dr AL Sharada, director, Population First, noted, "He envisaged corporate social responsibility long before it became a buzzword."
Sista made a plea to the Advertising Club in the course of his address: "Please institute an award for gender sensitive advertising in the Abbys."