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Profile: Sudarshan Banerjee: The Communicator

By Biprorshee Das , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | May 03, 2011
As he takes up a new role within the Mudra Group as the head of the Ahmedabad-based Ignite Mudra, Banerjee says that advertising and communication were always in the scheme of his chalked-out plans.

Starting out as a copywriter in 1994, Sudarshan Banerjee fuels his passion for brands and communication with as much vigour as he had when he began his career. His foray into advertising began -- fresh out of school -- with a Kolkata-based creative hot shop called Onyx Associates. Doubling up as a servicing executive, as well, laid the foundation for the road ahead. "Client servicing came naturally to me because I am a people's person as it is called today," he quips.

Continuing with Onyx, he finished his graduation, and went for a post-graduate programme in mass communication from Jadavpur University, following it up with an MBA degree in marketing from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management.

"I could have done an MBA in advertising from MICA (Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad), which was a norm then. The reason I did not do it was because advertising is a part of marketing and I needed to understand the larger marketing sphere in order to get things right," says Banerjee.

While interning with what was then Bates Clarion, Banerjee decided to get a taste of the media side of the business. He joined Zenith Media that later became MEC and then, ZenithOptimedia.

After the Zenith stint that lasted three years, Banerjee joined Grey's media arm Mediacom, in 2002, in Bangladesh, where he was asked to handle account planning, client servicing and media planning. While at Grey, he was exposed to the markets in the sub-continent. He worked on brands such as Coke, GSK, P&G, British American Tobacco, and Emirates' regional business.

The experience came in handy as he moved to MPG, Euro RSCG's media arm, where he handled the Reckitt Benckiser business. "It was rumoured that MPG was about to lose the Reckitt media business. Nobody at that time was willing to touch that job because of the ongoing rumours. What was interesting was that I was interviewed by Reckitt's chairman, Chander Mohan Sethi, before I was interviewed by the agency," he recalls.

With the turnaround in RCI's fortunes, Banerjee was offered a job with OMD in Nigeria to do the same. He turned it down.

Banerjee's next calling came about because of his new-found interest in the new media, digital and blogging space. He joined iContract Mumbai to head its Mumbai operations. Led by S Swaminathan and his vision on direct marketing, Banerjee's stint at iContract came to an end with Swaminathan's exit. Short stints at Saatchi & Saatchi, Bengaluru, and one more at Genesis Advertising in Mumbai followed before he came to Mudra in 2009.

Media, advertising, digital marketing, a plethora of brands and categories -- is he a jack of all trades? Banerjee says there is a reason.

"If you have to run an agency someday, it is best that you know how each division works so that no one takes you for a ride," he says. Banerjee wants to work on the "vision that Madhukar Kamath and Pratap Bose have" -- identifying entrepreneurs and the next wave of brands with the agency that boasts of creating names such as Rasna, Dhara, Krack, Moov and Dermicool.

The active 'social media evangelist' is quite busy on Twitter (his Twitter handle is @additiyom). "Social media is a consumer trend that requires every communication professional to be an active participant if he or she were to engage those consumers. If you intend to let it pass, you might as well pass up communications and marketing as a career," he elaborates.

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