Anand Damani is the new planning head for Contract, Mumbai

By Neha Kalra , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Advertising | October 08, 2009
From account management, to the sales function and planning, Damani cherishes every moment that he has witnessed. In his new role, he will be heading the planning function at Contract, Mumbai

Anand Damani, planning head, Saatchi & Saatchi, Mumbai has moved on. He has joined Contract Advertising in the same capacity. In his new role, he will report to Rohit Srivastava, executive vice-president, planning, who looks after the function nationally for Contract Advertising.

Confirming the news to afaqs!, Srivastava reveals that Damani is an eclectic combination of being rooted, and of carrying the right spark in the right manner, which is sought from people who join the agency.

Passing out of HR College of Commerce & Economics, Mumbai with a BCom degree, along with a CA Foundation course; and further going on to pursue an MBA and landing up in advertising was something Damani had neither planned nor thought of. Damani thought chartered accountancy was what he was destined to do.

Realising he no longer wanted to be boring, he took up an MBA at KJ Somaiya in 1998, after completing his CA Foundation course. And between 1998 to 2000, "When everybody was falling in love with money, I fell in love with advertising," he quips.

He got picked up at campus by Publicis Ambience (then Ambience Publicis). Joining in account management, for the first year, he handled the Parachute (Marico) account. In the second year, he was handed over Vicks (P&G), AFL WiZ and Be: (Raymond).

"Besides the usual brand building capabilities, what I learned most at Ambience Publicis was to be street smart," he says.

After two years, he received an offer from L'Oreal India to join their marketing division. However, he was asked to begin from sales. Therefore, his first year at L'Oreal was spent doing sales as a business development officer, in charge of South-West Maharashtra and Goa.

He's quick to add, "I know what you are thinking. But no, it wasn't beaches and fun. It was a gruelling experience; an experience that I carry for life. It included traveling to the interiors of Maharashtra and Goa, selling products like hair colour and wrinkle lift creams in towns like Ichalkaranji and Chiplun."

After a low period of not being able to meet targets, he sprung up with the intention of making it a 'before and after' story. Post that, he returned to the marketing division, for which he was originally hired -- he was designated product manager for Garnier Nutrisse hair colour.

Damani was seeking a role that required him to drive strategy, which he thought he could do well. This led him to join Lowe Lintas, in account planning in 2004. What he felt instinctively about driving strategy did come true, he reminisces.

At Lowe, he was responsible for leading strategy in new business acquisitions of VIP undergarments, UTI Mutual Fund, Corelle crockery and Essar's 'The Mobile Store', to name a few. He also spearheaded the repositioning exercise of ACC Cement. Some of the other accounts that he worked on were Hindustan Lever Pureit, Liril, Breeze, Tata Mutual Fund and Bajaj motorbikes.

Turning 30 was truly a turning point for Damani, when he moved to Saatchi & Saatchi to set up the planning function for the agency's Mumbai operations. A part of the all-India management committee of the agency, he led a team of three mid-level planners at the branch.

Apart from advertising, cricket, travelling and photography keep Damani alive and kicking. He reveals that he is influenced to a great deal by the teachings of J Krishnamurti, Osho, Tao and Zen.

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