Ask L V Krishnan about the defining moments in his life and he comes up with this amusing story of how he got into space selling when he started his career in 1990. There was an ad for a walk-in interview that read, 'Wanted - space marketing executives' for the Times of India.
The word 'space' caught Krishnan's eye. He was then writing for a supplement called Science Express in the Indian Express. "I knew about space, but had no idea what marketing was and what it had to do with space," he recalls.
"That's when it became clear that the 'space' I had in mind was different from what this job was all about," he says. An orientation session by Pradeep Guha about the print industry on the first day fascinated him. "It struck a chord and fuelled my interest in this 'space'."
Another defining moment came after a year when he wanted to see how it felt on the other side of the table. "I went to Ogilvy (it was reputed to be a great place to learn media planning) and Rhoda Mehta asked me to create a media plan for a washing machine. I did that but wasn't hired. The disappointment only fuelled my interest in planning," Krishnan says. In 1992, he approached Trikaya Grey where Lynn de Souza asked him to prepare an analytical presentation about selling space. "That hit the mark and I bagged the job at Grey - it was my stepping stone in media planning," he remembers.
Starcom provided him with another defining moment in 1998. "While elsewhere, the focus was on planning and implementation, at Starcom, it was strategic planning." One of the jobs for Coke won Burnett's North Star 'Best Strategic Innovation idea' award on a worldwide platform.
The awards were selected from Burnett's work across the world. "I flew to Chicago to receive the award - the first time I went to headquarters." He also considers winning the AOR for P&G as a big moment. It was for the first time in its history that P&G had split its AOR between two agencies. Starcom bagged planning. "That win strengthened our faith in strategic planning," he adds.
Krishnan has spent close to 10 years at TAM and believes that every big milestone - like the merger of measurement panels, AC Nielsen's TAM and ORG-MARG's Intam in 2001-2002 - at TAM has been a defining moment for him. With 8,000 meters, India is among the top three countries to have a panel of this size.
(Defining Moments is a regular column which talks about the incidents that shaped great advertising, media and marketing careers.)