This fort­night...

The Brand Reporter - - EDITORIAL | CONTENTS - Ash­wini Gan­gal ash­wini.gan­gal@afaqs.com

The story of Praveen Kenneth is in­spir­ing. This Ban­ga­lore boy came into the world of advertising at 20 and to­day, at 47, he has al­ready picked up his pot of gold at the end of the rain­bow and has walked into the sun­set. While the rain­bow, gold and sun­set are all prover­bial, I’m se­ri­ous about the walk­ing. A day af­ter do­ing this in­ter­view with us, Praveen went to the wild grass­lands of Bhutan for a 300 kilo­me­tre­long sub-Hi­malayan walk that typ­i­cally takes close to three weeks to com­plete. For com­pany, he took four mules and a lo­cal guide along.

About a fort­night back, Praveen an­nounced his re­tire­ment from Law & Kenneth Saatchi & Saatchi, af­ter sell­ing his share in the com­pany for a gasp-wor­thy amount to its par­ent net­work Publi­cis Groupe. In 2014, the net­work ac­quired 51 per cent of the agency, one he launched back in 2005 along with Bri­tish ad­man and en­tre­pre­neur Andy Law and the late Anita Rod­dick, founder of The Body Shop.

Taken as we all are by Praveen’s story, fact is we know very lit­tle about it. We know the highlights, as does the rest of the world, but we don’t re­ally know his jour­ney. Lifestyle mag­a­zines call them ‘hu­man in­ter­est’ sto­ries. This in­ter­view – or shall we call it a bi­og­ra­phy? – was an at­tempt to get to know the anec­dotes be­tween the mile­stones.

Praveen is not your typ­i­cal flam­boy­ant ad­man. In fact, as a very se­nior mem­ber of his agency puts it, “Praveen was never part of the advertising in­dus­try...”

He’s not an ad­man. He’s a busi­ness­man. He shuns the lime­light, some­thing that’s earned him a rep­u­ta­tion of be­ing snob­bish and ar­ro­gant. Talk to him face-to-face, and it’s a dif­fer­ent story.

Through­out our con­ver­sa­tion, he grum­bled that it felt less like an in­ter­view and more like a blind date in which the girl was toss­ing strange ques­tions to get to know him bet­ter.

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