Impact Person of the Year Award 2011 goes to Agnello Dias of TapRoot – Advertising finally gets its due![Event]


[Note: This event coverage is written by Mr. Pavan R Chawla, Vice President — Media & Entertainment of Adfactors PR Pvt. Ltd.]

Finally, when Chief Guest Shivraj Patil, the Governor of Punjab (and former Home Minister of India) announced the winners of top Industry Award Jagran Presents Impact Person of the Year 2011, it was not only the suspense, but a tradition too that was broken.

When Patil announced that Agnello Dias, Founder-Chairman of TapRoot Media, had won the Impact Person Of the Year Award 2011, it was for the first time in the history of this top industry award that an Advertising professional had won. And only for the second time in its history, there were not one, but two winners.


The second winner was Haresh Chawla, Group CEO of Network18 and Viacom 18, who bagged the Editorial Choice award. And this ‘editorializing’ proved to be very popular, for the entire gathering of top media, marketing and advertising professionals applauded the announcement.

As Anurag Batra, Chairman & Ed-in-Chief of the e4m Group (and obviously IMPACT magazine) said, “While every year the process of the Impact Person of the Year award celebrates one singularly brilliant talent, this year, Haresh Chawla’s exemplary accomplishments compelled us to go beyond the process.” And that was why an Editorial Choice award too was announced.

Chawla, who normally keeps a low profile and doesn’t even like to take too many corporate profiling and other questions from the media, was, in a happy change of style, not only present but spoke at length and, as always, from the heart, thanking his entire team for doing great work that got him the recognition, and urged them to keep up the good work it’s been doing with him over the past ten-plus years. He thanked Raghav Bahl for giving him the opportunities for doing great work, and, in a sweet gesture towards the end of his warm acceptance speech, thanked his wife for being patient with his pre-occupation with work over the past so many years, ending with a “love you!” Tell you what – everyone present loved his simple candour and his gracious acceptance. And tell you what again? There should always be a second, Editorial Choice award, every year.

If the applause for Chawla’s win was resounding, the applause for the announcement that Agnello Dias had won the Jagran Impact Person of the Year 2011 award was deafening. For, however belated, Dais’s win was sweet acknowledgement of the immense and critical contribution all the solid professionals from that great, vast and deep talent pool, the world of Advertising, have been making to the Media Industry. In fact, let me borrow the words of the bright young Executive Editor of Impact, Srabana Lahiri, who put it succinctly in the special commemorative issue that was handed out after the results were announced: “The winner this year is truly special,” Srabana wrote in her editorial. “For the first time, an advertising agency professional has been voted by the industry to win this award. Since 2005, the Impact Person of the Year has either been a media company CEO or a large advertiser. But somehow, the component that connects the marketer and the media owner – which is the agency – has been missing.” I daresay that the virtual Who’s Who of Media, Marketing and Advertising professionals present at the awards would unanimously agree with that sentiment.

Dias’ acceptance speech – if one can call something as natural and endearing that – was as memorable as his win. “It is an honor to win this award,” Dias said, “Because it is the industry that has voted for it.” And then came the endearing bits, which, I must say, are the millions of things that probably make the man’s heart. Dias remembered his mentors across two decades, and as he counted their names, thanking them, he said, “I don’t think there has been any other single person in this industry who has been helped by so many!” He gave credit to his entire team, and pointing to where his TapRoot teammates stood rooted to the ground beaming upon their mentor, he told the high-profile audience, “You see those folks there? They are some of people in our excellent team. Take a good look at them, my friends. Because in a few years from now, you will definitely see one of them standing right here with this award, while I will be that side, applauding!”

Dias and Chawla have joined an elite list of winners, the last being the brilliant Uday Shankar of the STAR Network, who won last year.

Previous winners of the Impact Person of the Year Award are

  • Peter Mukerjea, then CEO of STAR India, in 2005;
  • Rajdeep Sardesai, Editor-in-Chief of CNN-IBN in 2006;
  • Dr Vijay Mallya, Chairman, UB Group, in 2007;
  • Lalit Modi, Former Commissioner, IPL and Raghav Bahl, Founding/ Controlling Shareholder & Managing Director – Network 18 2008,
  • Rajesh Kamat, CEO, CA Media (then CEO Colors) in 2009.

And the nominees in this year’s list were a formidable lot: Madhukar Kamath, MD & CEO, Mudra Group; Man Jit Singh, CEO, Multi Screen Media (MSM); Rajiv Verma, CEO, Hindustan Times Media Ltd; Ronnie Screwvala, CEO and Founder Chairman of UTV Group; Sandeep Goyal, Non-Executive Founder Chairman, Dentsu India; and Vineet Jain, Managing Director, Times Group.

Going by the power-packed A-list the industry chose him over, Dias will remember and cherish winning this award for a long, long time. And what must surely have made it even more special was that he received the awards at the hands of Shivraj Patil, with Vijay Darda by his side.

I have to say Governor Patil had obviously come prepared to give his gracious support and participation to the event. Tongue firmly in cheek, the senior statesman and leader said he was eschewing making an extempore keynote address in favour of a written one, particularly in view of the audience present! (That keynote address is definitely worthy of a separate post, so more about it another time, soon). The governor sat through the entire function, which went well over two hours, and was interspersed with some brilliant musical entertainment by pretty, virtuoso violinist Sunita Bhuyan, who served up a delightful and impressive musical mix on crisp tabla accompaniment, meandering from classical vocal alaaps to Sheela Ki Jawani in truly seamless fashion.

Hormusji Cama, Chairman Media Research Users Council (MRUC) and proprietor Bombay Samachar, presented a memento on behalf of the industry to Governor Patil. Governor Patil was accompanied by Media captain Mr. Vijay Darda, who was a Special Guest of Honour, and who read out the award citation of Haresh Chawla’s win, and was on stage with the Governor as the awards were given away.

I was editor of Impact way back in 2006, when, for the first time, Industry stalwarts from across Media, Marketing and Advertising wrote specially for the Second Anniversary issue, by invitation, and we even changed its cover and design style to give it a magazine cover instead of a Page One of stories. But that was years ago. Since then, Anurag, Nawal and Amit have invested heavily in the design look and feel, and of course, great content, and it has come far ahead, especially with the lovely design revamp it received from the brilliant Preeti Vyas Gianetti. But I must say that one really cutting edge Impact enjoys is the love and care that Shamsad Shaikh, its brilliant designer lavishes on each issue. You want to see a brilliantly well designed issue, see the special they handed out at the event.

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