Spatial Access

Defining Moments: Meenakshi Madhvani: “I can’t ignore challenges”

Afaqs!

Advertising has not just been a way of life for Meenakshi Madhvani, managing partner, Spatial Access Solutions, but a passion that started when she was in school. Madhvani traces her defining moments from advertising to media.

I was very clear, pretty early on, that all I wanted to do was advertising. When I actually got into advertising, I thought that was fantastic. These days you do not see that passion. For most people, it is just a job.

My first job was with a small agency called Adplan, after my post-graduate diploma in marketing from KC College, Mumbai. I was looking for a job, and the first agency that I went to rejected me and said that I was not good enough for advertising. Then I went to Adplan. The CEO interviewed me and asked me to come on board. This was in 1980. That was an exciting first step for me.

The excitement continued with public service advertising at Lintas. Alyque Padamsee believed in communicating for change. When you use communication to sell people products that they do not need, you are creating want and desire. That is the power of communication. If I can make someone go out and buy something they do not need, imagine harnessing that power to get them do something they should be doing. For example, go out and vote, go out and protect the environment, do something for the girl child.

The whole Lintas experience in servicing was amazing. I launched Fair & Lovely in India. That was a time when the clients and the agency had this amazing relationship of mutual respect. That is something I feel a little sad about because mutual respect seems to have mostly disappeared, or has become extremely weak. At one point of time, you could challenge your clients and debate with them, and the client would accept what you said. Today, it has become a rather servile kind of relationship.

The next significant moment came when I moved to Zee and realised the power of the media. When I joined Zee, in 1994, television was like a kindergarten and a college, all rolled into one. Not knowing any of the rules, we went in and created ones that were completely new.

Then of course, Spatial Access, the first media audit company in India, was launched in 2004. The first year was incredibly tough. There was huge resistance from the industry. Selling a new idea is always difficult. But, I cannot ignore a challenge, and this became a personal one that I had to respond to. That is what I did with my team.

In 2004, we started with one client, four people and one service, media audit. Today, we have 120 clients, 30 people, three services — media, production and BTL audit — and work across six countries.