Rashmi Menon
Defining Moments

Defining Moments: Prathap Suthan: Weaver Word

The passion for English language and writing led Prathap Suthan, better known as Pat, to a career in advertising. The thirst for new experiences in terms of travels, hobby and working in a plethora of agencies only enriched this craft for the trade.

The passion for the English language and writing catchy lines led Prathap Suthan (better known as Pat), managing partner and chief creative officer of Bang In The Middle and chief creative officer, iYogi Inc, to a career in advertising. What were the defining moments in his 25-year career?

Defining Moments: Prathap Suthan: Weaver Word
The news about astronaut Neil Armstrong making his journey to the moon was my first defining moment. I was six when my father pointed at the moon and told me that, right at this moment, a man was heading to the moon. I was awestruck! In my head, that piece of information was a quantum leap. It made me realise the limitless possibilities and a transformation from fantasy to reality.

English vinglish

The next incident that made an impact on me was in Class 8. We used to have weekly English comprehension tests. I was an average student but an avid reader of comics, Westerns and National Geographic magazine. One week, we were given a paper where on one side there was a picture of a beach and on the other, a bunch of random words. We had to write a story choosing either one side.

The picture grabbed my attention and I wrote a story called Operational Jalaraj - inspired by Commando comics and a real-life naval incident that I had read somewhere. At the end of it, I was beaming. I believed it was a beautiful story and was confident that I would get the maximum marks. True to my assumption, I won the first place. It was a realisation of sorts; I could write engaging stories and critically judge my work. But a few minutes later, my paper was reviewed and for some mysterious reason, I became the second in class. Till date, I don't know why it was done. Although it broke me, the incident acted as a fuel to help me do better the next time. And, I always came first in the comprehension tests.

Love guru

The next defining moment was in college, where I learnt the art of crafting a language style to suit a person's need, which is what advertising is about. I was known for my ability to write love letters for my friends who, in turn, would sponsor a mutton biryani. Each love letter was customised and written in a way that sounded as if the person himself/herself had written it. I became the de-facto love letter-writer in college. It also enabled me to understand the repertoire of writing skills. Each campaign and ideas is tailor-made to suit the requirements of the client and will not work for another brand.


Another defining moment was my trip to attend the advertising creative directors' meet at Monte Carlo and then to the International Advertising Film Festival (now Cannes Lions) at Cannes in 1992 when I was with Mudra Communications. I met many renowned creative directors there, some great minds, who were in their late 40s and 50s. Many were also casually dressed in T-shirt and denim. I was the youngest among them. It made me realise there is no age limit or limit to burnout for creativity. I also learnt humility.

Most of the people I met were very down to earth. It got me thinking that only those who felt insecure, went around creating an image of themselves like exhibiting ponytails or piercing.

Today, my philosophy in life is that I keep my door open to anyone and everyone because someone else had done that for me. I will give a person a chance to meet me.

I am never threatened by someone's ideas because I know the other person cannot imitate my ideas and how I think. After so many years in advertising, I am still a copywriter and have fun doing my work.

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