The Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI) has announced that the recipient of this year’s AAAI Lifetime Achievement Award is Roda Mehta. The award is the highest honour given to an individual in India for his/ her outstanding contribution to the advertising industry.
Mehta played a legendary and pioneering role in establishing scientific media planning and buying in India. While doing so, she built a whole generation of media professionals for the advertising industry. Mehta joined Hindustan Thompson Associates in 1971 and became the first MBA and first woman in the media function of an advertising agency in India. She moved to Ogilvy Benson & Mather in 1975, and rose from Media Group Head to Media Controller for Bombay Office in 1976 to representing Media for the first time on the Managing Committee of Bombay Office in 1978 to being sent to London for 3 months to introduce Account Planning and Research in the Indian operation in 1980 to the Board as Director – Media & Research in 1982. She transferred, as President – South in 1992, became Director -International Client Service in 1994, and Managing Consultant – the Media Network in 1996. Along the way, she pioneered Outdoor planning and buying and set up a Rural Media network to service client requirements.
Invited on several committees and associations by the industry, including the Expert Committee on TV Marketing for Doordarshan & AIR, she was Founder Member of the Market Research Society of India (MRSI) and Founder Member and Chairperson – Technical Committee of the Media Research Users Council (MRUC). She chaired MRUC from 1994-96. Ms Mehta was also on the Board of several other committees including Advisory Board – Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (Govt of India), AAAI’s Media Disputes Committee, Economic Times Advisory Panel, etc. An avidly sought after speaker at industry conferences/seminars, she served as faculty on training programs run by Ogilvy & Mather India and Asia Pacific.
Roda Mehta bagged several prestigious awards including the David Ogilvy Award for Asia Pacific & Agency of the Year Award (Public Service) 1992 for the National Literacy Mission campaign.
Currently she is associated with several non-profit organisations as a Trustee of the Lila Poonawalla Foundation, which provides scholarships and mentoring to economically challenged girls from Maharashtra for postgraduate, graduate/diploma and secondary school education; Board Member and Treasurer of Nagrik Chetna Manch, a citizen’s watchdog organisation on public expenditure. She administers a very active Citizens’ Whatsapp Group for civic affairs of PMC Ward 21 and is a practitioner of Kriya Yoga.
Making the announcement, Nakul Chopra, President, AAAI, stated, “Roda Mehta is a pioneer in more ways than one. This Award is well-deserved recognition for the stellar leadership she provided our industry and our eco-system for over two decades, during which time she also nurtured a whole generation of professional talent.”
Added Ashish Bhasin who was Chairman of the AAAI Lifetime Achievement Award Committee – Selection: “Roda Mehta has single-handedly played a vital role in getting due respectability for the Media function in Advertising.” Members of the Selection Committee for this Award included Sam Balsara, Srinivasan K Swamy, Ambi Parameswaran and Nakul Chopra.
This Award, instituted in 1988 by AAAI, has been bestowed on 24 persons thus far. It will be presented on July 14 in Mumbai.