Mumbai: Life has come full circle for Srinivasan K. Swamy. The Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI) will, on 29th July, present him with the Lifetime Achievement Award in Mumbai. He stands to win the same award his father, R.K. Swamy, a doyen of the Indian advertising industry, received several years ago. Making them the only father and son in the industry to win this prestigious accolade.
“If you stand in the same place for a while, someone will come hand you an award," laughs Swamy, also known as Sundar to friends in the industry, speaking from Chennai. “But on a more serious note, it is a great honour to be recognised by the industry. My father, unfortunately received it very late in his career. It took Mumbai some time to recognise his contribution (to the industry). Am happy they didn’t take that long to give it to me!" he said, laughing loudly, adding that his father would have been delighted, that their company’s contribution had been recognised by the industry.
This award is the highest honour to be given to an individual in India for their outstanding contribution to the advertising industry. This award was instituted in 1988 by AAAI and so far 23% have been bestowed with this honour earlier.
Swamy is the chairman of R.K. Swamy Hansa, a diversified marketing communications group. Since inception in 1973 as an advertising agency, the group interests currently include creative and media, interactive and digital, health care communications, social and rural sector, communication, human resources communication, marketing analytics, market research, events and activation, retail identity, public relations, among other things.
What sets him apart, perhaps, is his conviction and determination to make a change for the industry. “If there is one person who has tirelessly worked for the advertising industry, for over two decades, in various industry bodies, it is Sundar Swamy. So in a sense it was an easy choice this year," says M.G. Parameswaran, President, AAAI. “He’s 62 years old but still has the energy to do so much! It’s his never say die attitude that sets him apart from the others," he said, narrating an instance where the IAA (International Advertising Association) was celebrating their silver jubilee in Kochi, and with only a few weeks to go, the speaker list had still not been finalised. “He just sounded so cool, and said don’t worry. And he did get it done. He’s willing to pick up the phone, and just getting things done," said Parameswaran.
Among his most notable contributions to the industry have been the formation of the IBF (Indian Broadcasting Foundation) and AAAI joint working committee, to create an equal relationship between the agency and the broadcaster. Moreover, Goafest was created during his tenure at the AAAI and has emerged as a good initiative to get all the stakeholders together for a few days.
Swamy has been active in various industry bodies working towards the growth and development of the Advertising industry. He is the only president of AAAI, who has served for three consecutive terms (2004 – 2007) and continues to take active interest in the activities of AAAI. He is the vice chairman of Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), and a board member of Audit Bureau of Circulations. Swamy was also president of All India Management Association during 2008-09. He was the president of The Madras Chamber of Commerce and Industry (2008-10), Madras Management Association (2001-02) and the Advertising Club, Madras (1988-89).
He is currently serving his fourth term as the president of the India Chapter of International Advertising Association and was recently elected as senior vice president of International Advertising Association, the global body. Swamy is also vice chairman of Asian Federation of Advertising Associations. Earlier he was chairman of Confederation of Asian Advertising Agency Associations during 2008-10.
In addition, Swamy is actively involved with socially relevant institutions for the improvement of society through a 220 bed, multi-discipline tertiary care, Hindu Mission Hospital at Chennai catering to the urban poor and the surrounding rural areas; he serves as chairman of Valluvar Gurukulam School Society which runs a school for 2800 poor students, primarily girls and vice president of National Boys and Girls Education Society, a premium education institution in Central Chennai which runs three reputed schools. He is also chairman of Vidyadhanam and Annadhanam Trust, a Vedic Padasala of Sri Ahobila Mutt and Trustee in the Consumers Association of India and CONCERT.