The Indian media sector had a catalytic period in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The era transformed the Indian audience. It was dominated by iconic shows like Ramayan (1987–88) and Mahabharat (1988–90), which brought Indian audiences in front of the small screen in a never-seen-before manner. These shows were followed by the opening up of the economy (1991) and the introduction of cable television (1992). Both media habits and consumption patterns were evolving. This, as was to be predicted, also sparked a significant shift in the work and vision of the advertising sector.
It had previously focused on print and sometimes produced video commercials that aired for years on DD and in theatres, but it was suddenly faced with the pleasure and excitement of selecting content for non-stop television.
A foreigner joined the Indian agency environment when all of this was happening and used his own particular perspective to describe what those decades stood for. Bal Mundkur, the creator of Ulka advertising and a renowned figure in the world of advertising, discovered Anil Kapoor, or Billy as he is affectionately known (now FCB Ulka). The doyen was steering a “sinking boat” in 1988 since many of his colleagues believed Ulka was in its 28th year.
He refused to give up and gave Anil Kapoor, who was at the time employed for the pharmaceutical firm Boots, the reins of the agency. He had began his career with MCM, which quickly went out of business, thus he had very little experience working with an agency.
Giving an agency to a marketing professional was widely seen as a reckless choice, and wagers were put that Ulka’s modest gloss would quickly fade. However, Kapoor quickly restored the agency to its former position as one of the top five firms in that era. He brought a special group of affluent employees—the suit-and-booted managers—to the typically laid-back advertising profession, turning the agency’s fortunes.