Tributes: Masud Hamid Sabeen Mahmud
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.