Advertising veteran Tara Sinha passed away on Wednesday. Best known as the mother of Indian advertising, Sinha was one of the earliest women in the field who worked across India, the United States and the United Kingdom. She was 87.
Having started her career with advertising company SH Benson in London in 1952, Sinha was the co-founder of Clarion Advertising Services Ltd, later known as Clarion McCann Advertising Services Ltd, through the 60s and 70s. She was 27 when she founded the company. When Clarion tied up with American agency McCann, she had to set up another subsidiary called Advertising Consultants India Ltd because an ad agency with a foreign partner was not allowed to conduct government or public sector business.
After working with Coca Cola in both Atlanta and India between 1973 and 1983, she returned to Clarion where she stayed till 1985. It was then that she founded Tara Sinha Associates, becoming the first woman to set up a national advertising agency. She also got McCann Erickson as partner. The agency came to be known as Tara Sinha McCann Erickson later and is remembered for handling prestigious brands like Nescafe during its time. Later McCann bought out her stake in the company.
"Although I did not work with her as I joined McCann after she left, everyone at the agency followed the high standards she had set," said advertising veteran Chintamani Rao. "She was a top draw professional and I could see her legacy at McCann. She was very tough and a very demanding person," he said. Manoj Singh, CFO at McCann remembers being her finance partner in 1992 when he was 27. "Working with her was a fabulous experience. She was very dynamic," he said.
Sinha remained active in the advertising business for more than half a century. She is considered to have belonged to the same league as advertising legends like Subhash Ghoshal and Subroto Sengupta.
Sinha was known as one of the finest people in Indian advertising. Contemporaries remember her as a woman of impeccable taste and great aesthetics, besides someone who broke the glass ceiling in advertising in the 80s by setting up her own agency and servicing a client like Nestle.
“Clients looked up to her and marketing managers were in awe," said advertising veteran Sandeep Goyal. "You have to remember her towering personality in the context of who her contemporaries were. They were all the big shots in advertising such as Mike Khanna, Alyque Padamse, Arun Nanda and RK Swamy, among others."
In other roles, Sinha had served as chairperson of the Indian Institute of Mass Communication and member of the advisory council at the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi and chairperson of the advertising sub-committee, ASSOCHAM (The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry).