Trib­utes: Ma­sud Hamid Sabeen Mah­mud

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The news of Ma­sud Hamid’s death was shock­ing. It is not quite clear why an in­nocu­ous man like him would meet such a tragic end. Ma­sud was a ‘no strings at­tached’ sort of per­son, a self-made man who had built his ca­reer on the back of sheer hard work. I re­mem­ber the late Iqbal Noorie in­ter­view­ing him for a sales manager’s job in Dawn. This was way back in 1985. And Ma­sud came across as a man who knew what he was talk­ing about.

Be­fore Dawn, Ma­sud had worked for Spec­trum Com­mu­ni­ca­tions. From do­ing client ser­vice at an ad agency to tak­ing up a sales job at a news­pa­per was quite a dif­fer­ent ball­game but it was ob­vi­ous that Ma­sud was ready for the chal­lenge. Though the print medium was still strong in those days but even then, sell­ing space – news­pa­per or what­ever - was dif­fi­cult. That Ma­sud Hamid made it look so easy went to the credit of the man. He must have faced the rock wall of re­sis­tance ev­ery­where he went – ad­ver­tis­ers, agen­cies - but he plod­ded on and made a suc­cess of it.

Dawn had been known to be a very con­ser­va­tive or­ga­ni­za­tion all along and those who worked for it op­er­ated within many con­straints, whether in ad­ver­tis­ing or oth­er­wise. To top it off, the ad depart­ment was also un­der­staffed. Ma­sud brought a new pace and mo­men­tum to the way the Dawn ad­ver­tis­ing arm worked – and added many dy­namic peo­ple to the team. The re­sult was that the news­pa­per’s snooty face be­gan to open up and more rev­enue gen­er­at­ing ideas be­gan to be ex­plored.

While re­ply­ing to a ques­tion (in an ex­clu­sive in­ter­view in this mag­a­zine in 2013) about Dawn go­ing into other ar­eas than just bring­ing out a news­pa­per, Ma­sud had said that that was how changes were com­ing about in the print medium.

“The Fi­nan­cial Times holds so many con­fer­ences a year,” he had said. “It’s a news­pa­per but they spon­sor, han­dle and man­age con­fer­ences on sub­jects like art. If a news­pa­per like the Fi­nan­cial Times spon­sors an art con­fer­ence, where is the syn­ergy? The syn­ergy lies in the fact that the reader of the Fi­nan­cial Times is an art col­lec­tor too. In the west, banks are big col­lec­tors of art. Post-9/11, the dip in their ad­ver­tis­ing in­dus­try was about 40 per­cent. A sim­i­lar trend was wit­nessed in Pak­istan at the time of Be­nazir’s as­sas­si­na­tion. Ad­ver­tis­ing just dipped and we had to look for op­tions and it was also a good test for us – that how about a B2B or a B2C event, where we could bring the con­sumer and the man­u­fac­turer or the mar­ket­ing firm to­gether to have an eye to eye con­tact.” He had fur­ther said, “Life­style to­day is the largest con­sumer event in the coun­try. We do it in three cities and we get about 150 to 200 ex­hibitors. Yes, we do throw the chil­dren in. If the wife is in­ter­ested in at­tend­ing Life­style, there should be some­thing there for the hus­band and some­thing for the kids as well.”

That was Ma­sud Hamid’s style – and it took him right to the top of the chart as Direc­tor of Mar­ket­ing at Dawn. He had many new ideas up his sleeve, like open­ing up the dig­i­tal po­ten­tial for Dawn by set­ting up a Dig­i­tal So­ci­ety.

His pace was lively, re­sult-ori­ented – and imag­i­na­tive. He was well aware of the di­verse di­rec­tions a print medium must take to stay afloat. He was ‘a strong hu­man be­ing,” as his daugh­ter Tooba de­scribed him in a piece in Dawn. And it’s all gone be­cause Ma­sud Hamid is no more.

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