SUNIL ALAGH strides in with a smile on his face and a pack of ciggies in his hand.
Just back from the Capital (and on his way to Rishi Kapoor¶s daughter¶s wedding), he¶s excited about I-Gen, the new brand he is helping Godfrey Phillips launch this month in Delhi. The cigarettes in their trendy black and silver cases are intended to appeal to Gen Next. ³Basically awesome cigarettes´ says the pack on one side, while another glib tag line reads ³Dlite 4 senses 24x7´. More than two years after being unceremoniously ousted from Britannia Industries, Alagh is slowly moving back into the spotlight. As founder of consultancy outfit SKA Advisors Pvt Ltd, which specializes in marketing and brand building, the 58-year-old¶s clients now range from bio-pharma company Biocon to beedi manufacturer Sarda Group. ³All my clients are challenging the leaders in their fields, he says.´ Alagh will also host The Job Show on CNBC-TV 18, which will give aspirants a chance to win some of the best entry-level management jobs. ³I want to demystify the interview room,´ he says, of his role as a moderator between companies and candidates. Scheduled to be aired in the second week of March, the show has attracted a number of firms, including Satyam, Wipro, YesBank, LG Electronics and Aviva Life Insurance among others. VITAL STATS - He drives a Toyota Innova, enjoys Schezwan cuisine and loved The Da Vinci Code - His favourite holiday spot in India is Rajasthan, especially Jaisalmer and Jodhpur. He loves London, and one of his best vacations was in Prague, when it was the capital of Czechoslovakia, and Florence, Italy - His first job was at ITC when Ajit Haksar was the chairman. He then moved to Jagatjit Industries and ultimately to Britannia in 1974 - His wife, Maya, is a general practitioner who also acts on TV and in movies. His older daughter Sanvari was, till two weeks ago, with Star TV as the executive producer of the successful Nach Baliye. Younger daughter Anjori is studying and wants to act in theatre and television Alagh¶s current exuberance is a far cry from mid-2003, when he was dismissed as MD and CEO of Britannia Industries in a dramatic and murky episode that raised eyebrows in the corporate world. Widely credited with Britannia¶s success in the biscuit field (it became India¶s #1 food brand during his tenure) and framing its growth strategy in the decade before his departure, Alagh left in a huff over differences with Britannia¶s promoters. Among other accusations in the events that followed were misappropriation of funds and Alagh¶s take-itor-leave-it style of leadership. Industry sources say his Rs 1 crore annual salary was not sufficient to sustain his extravagant lifestyle. Alagh says he didn¶t have any plans after he left Britannia. ³For a while I didn¶t want to do anything at all. I was disillusioned and felt let down by the people I trusted.´ For two months after his abrupt exit, Alagh indulged his late-riser gene and woke up whenever he wanted. The Hindi movie buff saw a movie every afternoon²Sholay (he¶s seen it eight times) and Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi are his favourites, and he thinks The Godfather II was better than The Godfather. He also finally got time to hit the treadmill, something he had been meaning to do for a while. The quiet period did not last long. While he was recuperating, Kiran Majumdar-Shaw, the owner of Biocon, approached him to help her position her company as a retail brand in the pharmaceuticals market. Alagh was intrigued and thus was born SKA Advisors. With it, Alagh¶s career, which had threatened to end so ignominiously, got a new lease.
Ahmedabad. the less frustrated they will be. Alagh advised the company to enter the dry fruit market with Vitamla. says he picked Alagh for his ³ability to focus on a core issue´. Within a month.´ says Satish Mane. Britannia¶s former head of marketing. has taken off well and. a Britannia brand.Taking on Biocon as a client was Alagh¶s first step back into the world of brand strategy and marked his return to the corner room. he¶s a very colourful personality and knows how to motivate a team. ³My clients are the Jerrys. Alagh says he still feels as much excitement as when he launched his first brand. president of Godfrey Phillips. according to Alagh. These days he¶s busier than ever²but on his own terms. United Breweries. IL&FS and National Institute of Design. He likes to spend two days a month with each and work with teams on project execution.´ he says. used to do in Mumbai²and with half the budget that the bigger brand had at its disposal. Alagh provides it all.¶¶ he adds. which hit the consumers with Parivar Chai and its ³Surrrr ke piyo´ campaign.
. After deliberations. he is also on the advisory board of companies such as express cargo firm GATI Ltd. With all his clients. running circles around the Toms. referring to his range of clients. ³As a basket. What is certain is that Tom the cat will not get Jerry the mouse and the sooner companies identify their Jerrys. is already clocking sales close to what Maska Chaska. As if that does not keep him busy. The product. ³Otherwise you end up wasting energy.´ he says with a grin. ³He is able to connect with the market through simple initiatives and by riding on the customer¶s emotional pulse. but Alagh has a line for that too. KK Modi. The former biscuit-maker is also eyeing the FMCG market for potential buyouts with the help of private equity investors. ³I prefer to help turn up companies.´ he laughs. ³Whether in life or with brands. ³Plus. All that work means he has no time to learn golf (even though he¶s bought the kit and acquired a golf club membership). Sapat Tea. not just turn them around. currently selling only in Mumbai. He cites the example of another client. one has to make one¶s presence felt.´ he says. Shrirang Sarda of the Sarda Group approached him to help the company make the transition from beedis to the snack segment.´ Gen Next would approve. Alagh cites Tom and Jerry cartoons as his marketing mantra.