When Radeus started as a co-operative agency, the ‘founding members’ K. Kurien and Usha Katrak were being shadowed by a legal case of defrauding. It was slapped onto them by none other than ASP, of which they were once a part, and off whose client base they started Radeus. They called upon two trusted people Radha Khambadkone and Eustace Fernandes and used them as a front to start out their ambitious advertising communications venture. And thus was born RAD from Radha and EUS from Eustace to become one big family called RADEUS.
Having heard this story again and again in the seventeen years I worked there, it almost became a Radeus folklore. And living it out in full life was dear Eustace. My memory of Eustace is of a maverick doodler… one who I consider as one of the best art directors produced by Indian advertising. And he proved me right time and again as long as we worked together. It was amazing how, on innumerable occasions, I would be sitting across the table discussing the client brief with him and explaining what was needed in the campaign, and this maverick doodler would barely look up from whatever he was doing with his pencil on the paper and as I would come to the end of the brief and get prepared for the questions, voila! I would be shown the paper he was scribbling on, and I would get to see a perfect layout, good enough to be carried to the client, and perfect to the brief! I have never seen anyone as good then nor ever after till date, even in the super speed age of supercomputers!
To a dehati, Urdu-medium educated copywriter like me, English was as alien as probably Ghalib was to Eustace. And did he ever leave a stone unturned to rub it into me! A particularly ‘enlightening’ moment was when, Eustace of many languages (he claimed to know French, Spanish and God knows what others, Greek Latin to an untrained novice like me) flamboyantly flashed a paper before me. The paper had just two words written on it. With great flourish he asked me to read it aloud. I innocently read it loud and clear…‘Grand Pricks’… and there was Eustace doubled up laughing hard in probably a laugh Grand Prix!
This was neither the first nor the last of such pranks that he played on me… but I shall be eternally grateful to this guy to introduce me to the ‘propah’ advertisingwallah language, and pushing me to learn it well. Maybe today with this article I shall be able to pay back my ‘teacher’ through my heartfelt tribute.
It is sad that he probably passed away sad and angry, as I gather from an article that appeared recently, and I quote “reports in a section of media sometime back claimed that adman Sylvestor DaCunha was the creator of the Amul Girl, relegating Fernandes to the status of a mere ‘artist’. DaCunha does not deserve any ‘credit’, says Eustace. ‘The mascot was created by me without any assistance or direction from him’.
‘And he’s claiming credit as the creator of the girl and wants his name in the Guinness Book for running the longest ongoing campaign’ says Eustace in a choked voice” unquote. Whatever one may claim, Eustace had more such ‘Amuls’ to prove his genius in legendary campaigns that were complete by themselves, even as sketches! Limca with its ‘Lime n lemony Limca’, Amul Girl and her ‘Utterly Butterly Delicious’, Modern Bread Lion, LIC and the list is endless…
The other side of Eustace was noble, giving and so ready to serve the needy. I have seen his relentless work with the street and underprivileged children from close quarters as he involved me in his work. The dedication, love and commitment was unquestionable and completely selfless.
He extended his professional skills to many NGOs, designing their brochures, book covers, newsletters, magazines without charging a penny. It is in his work that he will live on forever, as he will in the hearts of all those children he served, as he will from the Amul girl as we see her live-on, on the iconic brand idea on the hoarding, the Air India Maharaja as he twirls his lush moustache…and of course for me forever printed on the cover of my first book and imprinted in my memory… sleep tight friend!
To read Saurabh Turakhia's tribute to Eustace Fernandes, click here.