Ram Atre
Founder, Alka Advertising

It all started in 1964. I was 21, working for the Bank of Maharashtra. My brother (he was in publication business then) came with this idea of starting an advertising agency. I agreed and started, most probably, the tenth agency in Pune. Interestingly, in those days, agencies were mostly run by the Brahmins. I too am a Brahmin and it helped.

I actually can name some of those agencies now: Sadhana (still there), Flash Publicity (existing), Raviraj (You must have heard this name), Hind Publicity and above everyone else, Pratibha (Ironically, it does not exist any more, at least not by the same name). That was the era of black and white advertisements. The rate was Rs. 2.50 for a column centimeter in the Sakal.

Most of the advertising agency founders were in the Government services before joining this business. One of them- I remember- used to ride around the city by a bicycle collecting advertising contents. That was a sellers' market. The ad spent was miniscule. The competition in the market and among the agencies was negligible. We were in a very amicable business.

Things changed slightly around 1978 with the entrance of new agencies. Things changed drastically around 1995 with the beginning of a 'discount war'. Now clients spend more on advertising and agencies spend more time fighting with each other.

But it's still a good business to be in, especially if you are strong in providing services and building relationships. What I have achieved socially and financially is just because of this agency business of mine. I wish you all the luck and Godspeed!

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