Noshir Desai, former CEO of Karishma Advertising and later media head at Lintas, passed away in Mumbai on 6th September 2023.
Noshir was a veteran of many years belonging to the MCM era where he began his career. He then moved to Everest Advertising and later on worked with Lintas in Account Management where he was instrumental in building the Four Square cigarettes brand for GPI. Noshir was a solid personality with excellent client relations. A very hardworking professional who never believed in giving up.
In the late ’80s when the big agencies were setting up sister agencies, he was identified to head Karishma Advertising. He took on that mantle and built Karishma as a creative boutique in the next few years partnering creative stalwart Quentin Coelho. The agency produced some great work and won awards in India. While it started as a Mumbai-based agency, Noshir ensured that the footprint of Karishma extended to Delhi and Kolkata. I had the opportunity to work with him and he was instrumental in giving me that break at Karishma.
Being a sister agency of the big parent agency, winning new business was always a challenge but Noshir had a knack for smelling new business and ensured that Karishma was invited for the pitch along with the other biggies. He was always hungry for new business and was very agile and well networked in the industry.
A legendary personality, he will be missed from the advertising world. His contribution to Lintas and the advertising industry will always be remembered.
(The author, Ganapathy Viswanathan, is an independent communication consultant.)
Noshir was the ‘Raja’ who always smiled away client pressures
Ajay Chandwani pens a tribute for his friend Noshir Desai who passed away on 6 September
Noshir was the ‘Raja’ who always smiled away client pressures Noshir Desai is no more…said this cryptic SMS that shook me inside out between meetings on a wet Wednesday of 6 September.
I was stunned and shocked at the same time. Surely this can’t be good old ‘Nosh’.
His positive demeanour and jovial outlook almost seemed to suggest he was not mortal.
As a fellow Lintas Mancom colleague for many years in the nineties, Nosh was the quintessential bundle of cheers that lit up stressful meetings with a brightness that was almost endearing. Among many roles that Noshir played in Lintas, the two key ones were regional office coordinator and head of media before he moved on to set up Karishma. Lintas regional offices were run by Fali Vakeel in Bengaluru, Nures Sayeed in Kolkata, Preet Bedi in Delhi, Asit Mehra and Ashish Bhasin in Chennai. In between Mancom meetings which Alyque Padamsee and Prem Mehta chaired, Nosh would often be loudly barking down instructions to Fali, Asit, Nures and others laced with his Parsee sense of humour which once forced Alyque Padamsee to famously quip ‘Nosh next time please use the telephone!’.
Among the more memorable journeys of the many I had the privilege of accompanying Nosh was a famous presentation to Chandu Mishra of ITC in Kolkata and Modi Xerox in Delhi during Preet Bedi and Jayashree Sundar’s time. Apart from Philips, these two were among the large gains of new business for Lintas, at a time Alyque was going on an aggressive thrust to become the number one agency to upstage the then undisputed leader HTA. “Raja, ab kuch kar dikhana hai’, was his perpetual barb. Nosh’s mannerisms provoked Fali Vakeel to sing a spoof of “Oh mere Raja” in a Northpoint Lintas offsite night get-together that had everyone like Meenakshi Madhvani, Nishi Suri, Usha Bhandarkar and Prabha Parmeshwaran rolling on the floor. Alyque and Prem used to look up to Nosh to dispel any agency blues in a difficult situation.
Whether it was Lintas trying to get its media act right or pushing for more regional business. Stalwarts like Atul Sharma, Pranesh Mishra, and Ajay Shrikhande used to be regaled by the almost unique simple sense of Parsee humour which Nosh brought alive. Late-night presentations with Nosh used to alternate between Peshu Wadia’s slides and Akuri on toast at the Willingdon Club or the Oberoi bar if the wallets were filled. The very late nights used to sometimes end at Sardar Pavbhaji wala at Tardeo and if the food ran out in travel then Nosh used to always rely on the always available masala omelette. Noshir had obviously spent many nights in late-night presentations and always had a knack for finding food at 3 am when the presentation was done.
Nosh was a wonderful team player. He always knew how to give the limelight to those colleagues who were doing the work like the creative directors, account supervisors and the account planners. He would rehearse his pre-mumble well and took tips from Alyque Padamsee on presenting to clients. He built warm friendships with major clients like Titan, Brook Bond ITC, Reckitt Coleman, Philips, Polar Fans etc. Nosh spent his life building the relationships that got him far. From MCM to Everest to Lintas and Karishma, he will always be etched in my memory as one of the ever-shining jewels of Lintas Express Towers. He made life much easier and more fun than what the daily chores of client management had pushed into. The author is a strategic brand consultant and has previously been director, Lintas Mancom and president, SSC&B Lintas