The greatest tribute one can pay to this man is to get serious about advertising. Because that was what Larry was towards his profession, in the face of all the jokers who end up giving it a bad name. Larry has given the advertising world as much as, if not more, than he got from it. From being the blue-eyed boy of Subhash Ghosal, the doyen of Indian advertising with innumerable sensible, magical campaigns, some of which changed the face of Indian advertising, to the many awards and accolades showered on him, to the dejected man who looked at the deterioration of the profession helplessly, Larry has been a crusader for giving advertising a respectable name.
To say he was a great brain, is saying the obvious. Greats like Subhash Ghosal would stand in and vouch for his brilliance. His friends and colleagues, all of whom are senior people in advertising today, would not dispute this fact. For most of his life, Larry moved between HTA, O&M and Contract, with brief stints with ASP, Radeus and his own Larry Grant Communications.
The outstanding thing about Larry was his uncanny ability to sieve the trash and arrive at a single, all-encompassing core of the problem/solution from piles of information and data. I cannot think of any other writer, who digested information so thoroughly and arrived at a single forceful thought that built campaign after campaign. Wherever he went, he took his incisiveness and brilliance to create simple campaigns that kept the cash registers ticking for the clients. He had conceived the newspaper The Daily, which went on to become a rage in Mumbai. His love for journalism continued as he contributed regular columns and articles to various publications including The Times of India.
While he was the brilliant, unreachable star to many, I was fortunate to have Larry Grant, the legend as a great friend and teacher who has been a guiding light for me in more ways than one. My association with Larry dates back to over 28 years, when I got the chance to work with him in my early days at Radeus. Larry was a huge name then and it was excitement mixed with palpitation at the thought of working so closely with him. As the relationship graduated to friendship, it enriched my life and introduced me to the art of giving back to the profession what I got from it.
Larry was a human dynamo with the ability to perform many roles with aplomb. He was a copywriter par excellence, an exemplary teacher who was like a well of knowledge, a journalist and author who has written innumerable books on advertising. He excelled at everything he did and was absolutely unforgiving to errors. In fact, there are a lot of things I do today in my life, which have been instilled in me by my beloved friend Larry.
Larry was the guy who initiated me into teaching, which soon became my passion. Together we held hundreds of AAAI workshops, teaching innumerable students, who we are proud to say, occupy some of the most envied posts in the advertising world. His belief in advertising, as a serious form of communication with an objective to achieve sales for the client had won him utmost respect and faith from his clients and colleagues as the many awards he had won for his work. A lot of people in the industry today may have forgotten the Larry Grant who once touched their lives, but for genuine people he will always live on for the treasure of knowledge he passed onto them.
Larry's commitment to education went beyond just teaching; his book on advertising was prescribed by Bombay University for the students of B Com, when advertising was introduced as a subject of study. Even more recently was the presentation Larry and I made to the Bombay University, vehemently condemning the syllabus set for the newly introduced BMM course. On their request, we had drawn out a syllabus that was unanimously approved by the representation of colleges, only to be interfered with by a body of people who had more of their interests at heart than the students.
That was finally the limit for pushing Larry out of the education world, due to the sheer frustration of watching people commercialise education as a money-churning business. The fact that the course has churned out graduates in advertising, with none of them standing a chance to get a decent job in a professional agency only reinforces his view of the trash being belted out.
Another outstanding thing about Larry was his genius with computers. Even before the ad world had switched to the machine for executing work, Larry had a PC at home, which he mastered and used to the hilt. Until a few days back, Larry kept in touch with the world through regular e-mails and his website.
On the personal front, Larry was admirable for his will power. As a chain smoker, who could finish around 80 cigarettes a day, it just took him a few months to stop the habit completely. Even though he was extremely fond of his drink, dousing glasses by the dozen, it took Larry simple restraint to be off it completely. That was Larry for us, strong, intelligent, sharp witted and sharp tongued! Not many would have had the good fortune of knowing Larry so closely, being with him, learning for him. For me, it was a blessing to have found such a great friend. And the loss of this friend has created a vacuum in my heart that can never ever be filled by anyone else. Because no one can hold light to a Larry… in fact there can never be another Larry again. Will forever miss you my friend.
Jameel Gulrays is a name synonymous with professional training and development in the field of advertising. He, along with his mentor, friend and guide Larry Grant conducted a number of advertising workshops. Currently, Gulrays, in partnership with renowned art director Gopi Kukde, is involved in the day-to-day operations at Cutthroat Communications, an agency launched by the two.
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