Campaign India Team
Mar 20, 2024

Industry tributes: Remembering the irreverent, non-conformist Fali Vakeel

As the ad industry continues to mourn his indelible loss, Vakeel's peers share tributes on his life—one dedicated to pushing the boundaries of creativity, sparking inspiration, and leaving an enduring mark on the fabric of advertising in India

Industry tributes: Remembering the irreverent, non-conformist Fali Vakeel

In the annals of Indian advertising, the late Fali Vakeel was a luminary whose legacy transcended mere professional achievements, titles and accolades. The former vice chairman of Lowe Lintas embodied an era where creativity reigned supreme, and bold ideas were the currency of success.

As we reflect on his remarkable journey through the words and memories of individuals whose lives he touched, industry peers pay homage to a visionary whose innovative yet irreverent spirit and unwavering dedication forever altered the landscape of advertising in India, leaving an indelible imprint. 

Ajay Chandwani
Strategic brand consultant
Previously director of Lowe Lintas and president of SSC&B Lintas

Fali Vakeel was a dear friend and a professional colleague for many years in Lowe Lintas at the Express Towers office. We were part of numerous Mancom meetings and SRB brand sessions, many of which were held in the exalted 'White Room' set up by Alyque Padamsee.
Ever smiling with a twinkle in his eye and a sense of humour bordering on the ribald, Fali was the quintessential jovial guy who, along with Faisal Ahmed in Bangalore, created an oasis of mirth even in dark stressful times. He was famously referred to as being one of the last Mad Men in advertising, in an industry which had lost a lot of its ‘mad quirky passion’ and replaced by ‘political correctness’—which Fali shunned like the plague.
Fali studied and grew up in London and tried a stint in an accountancy firm before joining JWT and McCann, where he worked for a few years. Among Fali’s notable friends in school was Sebastian Faulks, the British author of books like Birdsong and Devil May Care (which is a James Bond continuation novel in the Ian Fleming mould). Sebastian and Fali got along like a house on fire in the London school where they studied together and their friendship grew over the years. This must have rubbed off on Fali the sobriquet of “The London-returned Parsee." 
My most vivid memory of Fali was to accompany him to MBA placements which Lintas visited to select the cream of the students at IIMs, Bajaj and other institutes. In those days, Lintas was a day zero status at IIM, rubbing shoulders with foreign banks as employers because of the high profile HLL case studies of Surf Lalitaji, Liril, Rin and Britannia, Reckitt Coleman etc.
Fali was a big admirer of freedom and surrounded himself with a culture of live and let be. He loved the culture set up in SSC&B Lintas which was a mix of the Lintas' strength of strategic thinking and the passionate free-flowing creativity of some of the boutique agencies. He was always paying generous compliments for any creative achievements.
When we were both looking to select new MBA graduates at IIMs Fali quipped “I want Lintas to look for irreverent radical right-brained thinkers who defy norms and carve a path not trodden before. I want MBAs to be not predictable and safe in outlook like some of our clients are."
Fali will always remain a happy memory in the magnificent agency culture that Lintas built, and the numerous anecdotes his colleagues will regale as time goes by. Agencies today don’t make these Mad Men of the era gone by anymore."
Ravi Deshpande
Founder and chairman
Whyness Worldwide

In the early 90s, during the nascent stages of my career at Contract, Bangalore, I got acquainted with Fali. He extended a gracious offer for me to join and enrich the creative landscape at the Lintas office, an opportunity I regretfully declined. However, Fali's meeting left a lasting impression on me, resonating for three distinct reasons.
Firstly, he embodied the quintessential leader—one you instinctively admire.

Secondly, beyond his professional acumen, his infectious sense of humour and genuine warmth were endearing. Lastly, individuals like Fali elevated our industry, bringing in a sense of dignity and esteem. His reputation as a stalwart in the advertising world not only garnered admiration from clients and peers but also contributed to the overall perception of our profession.
Upon learning of Fali's passing, I was overcome with a profound sense of sadness—a poignant reminder of a big loss and the end of an era.
Campaign India

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