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Adman Srinivasan K Swamy gets AAAI Lifetime Achievement Award
August 1, 2016

Adman Srinivasan K. Swamy was conferred the Lifetime Achievement award by Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI). The AAAI’s Lifetime Award, which recognises the contribution of individuals in the advertising industry, started in 1988. So far, the award has been presented to 23 people. Swamy’s father R K Swamy was also presented this award 19 years ago. Swamy a veteran of 36 years in the advertising industry, is the chairman of a marketing communications company called R K Swamy Hansa. Also known as ‘Sundar’, Swamy on the occasion recited a Tamil couplet from Thirukkural, while thanking the audience: “Eendra Pozhudhin Peridhuvakkum Thanmakanaich Chaandron Enakketta Thaai”, which means “The mother who hears her son being praised as ‘wise’ will experience more joy than when she did, at his birth.” In his acceptance speech, Mr. Swamy expressed gratitude and said that he had gained considerable insights from ‘Gurus in the room’ and work colleagues.

“Similarly, I have learnt considerably from my colleagues, past and present, in many of our group Companies; from my colleagues from the various industry Associations and Chambers of Commerce, I have been involved in; from my many clients and friends who have encouraged me to make mistakes and learn from them; from my wife and other family members who allowed me to pursue my dreams but always shown me the right path,” Swamy said in his acceptance speech. Swamy was the President of AAAI for three consecutive years, from 2004 to 2007. He is the Vice Chairman of the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) and a Board Member of the Audit Bureau of Circulations.

“Many of you may not realize this, but I have served in the AAAI Executive Committee for 18 continuous years. That is half my working life, considering I have been in this profession for 36 years. I think only Nagesh Alai has served longer than I have at AAAI,” he said. His wife Sudha was also in the dias. Talking about her Swamy said, “My wife Sudha is a very bright lady, an MBA and had a thriving career. But she gave up much of this to support my children, me and my parents. She is here to share my happiness with me today, as she has always done in the past.” He also said that Lifetime award was not an indication of his retirement.

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The Group was founded by the late Mr R K Swamy, a doyen of Indian advertising. His advertising career spanned 63 years and started in 1940 when he joined J Walter Thompson in 1940 in the Indian Languages department. After doing a stint in Calcutta for several years, he returned to Bombay.

In 1955, he moved to Madras to start a new office of J Walter Thompson, which kick started the entire advertising industry in South India. After 33 eventful years, R K Swamy left JWT while he was a senior most director, and the company had become established as a leader in the business.

At the age of 50, he founded R K SWAMY Advertising Associates and within seven years, this company had spread its wings across the top five cities of India. When the doors of R K SWAMY Advertising Associates Private Ltd opened for business on April 3, 1973, it had thirty people on its rolls. A full service Agency from day one, it even included a research department!

Mr R K SWAMY was living up to one of his favourite quotes – “Not failure, but low aim is crime.” His company joining hands with the BBDO Worldwide Network in 1986, long before such tie-ups became the trend in the industry.

Mr R K Swamy left his mark in three key ways. First, he truly built the advertising business by bringing in more advertisers, by espousing the power of communication in an era of a controlled economy. Second, he provided opportunities for an army of professionals to be trained, who are now scattered throughout the industry. Lastly, he was a passionate professional, who fought doggedly for the legitimacy of his business, without compromising on his principles and what he believed in.

When Mr R K SWAMY passed away on June 5, 2003, he would have had the satisfaction of knowing one thing - he did build an institution, and it continues to strive to live up to his ideals.