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.