Ambi is an alumnus of IIT Madras [1977/BT/CH] and IIM Calcutta [1979]. He completed his PhD from Mumbai University [2012] in the area of religiosity and consumer behavior. After serving as E.D. and  CEO of DraftFCB-Ulka Mumbai, one of India’s top three advertising agencies for ten years, he transitioned into an Advisor role in mid-2013.


He is an award-winning  author of seven books, the latest being ‘For God’s Sake – An Adman on the Business of Religion’, published by Penguin India. He is a member of the Board of Governors of IIM Calcutta and is a Distinguished Alumnus Awardee from IIT Madras. He lives and works in Mumbai, and can be found walking in the mornings humming  Carnatic music classics.

 

The joy of studying at IIT Madras to me was the great opportunities it offered us and the freedom it gave us. Living in the beautiful campus, surrounded by the flora and fauna , and some of the brightest minds of the country, was indeed a rare experience. We spent five years at IIT [I belong to the Class of 1977] and the first two years were common for all the batches, allowing us to make some great friends across streams. At IITM we could classify friends as those from your stream [mine being Chemical], those from your hostel [Godavari] or from your first year batch. Our young minds  got shaped by numerous influences, from the academic rigour, the extra-curricular activities and the diverse set of friends drawn from all over India, and South Asia.

The campus life opened our eyes to many new things. From listening to rock music [Dark Side of the Moon] every night, to discovering new genres of writing [Ayn Rand], to figuring out the next gag to use in the skit competition, it was a non-stop journey of discovery.

There was the Computer Society which opened its doors to all the students [not that I ventured near it], the Photography Club, the Film Club and more.

While I was doing my B Tech in Chemical Engineering, I got to spend a great deal of time reading fiction of various kinds. If I were to recall a few names they would include Graham Greene, Aldous Huxley, Somerset Maugham, Anthony Burgess, and more.  In addition to the fiction books one read, one also explored authors like Carlos Casterneda,  Issac Asimov, Arthur C Clark and spent endless hours discussing books like Godel/Echer/Bach and  the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

I suppose it was those exploratory discussions across diverse topics that prepared me for a career in marketing and advertising. As you are probably aware, advertising throws numerous challenges our way. One day it is the way to position an antacid brand. The next day could be spent discussing brand names for cars. The third could be the nuances of television advertising.

In the process of working in advertising and marketing, I did learn a lot, about consumer behavior, cultural sub-text under many of our actions and the art  of getting a great creative product.

It is therefore fitting that this year I will be publishing my seventh book, one not devoted to advertising, marketing or brands, but something that explores a bigger picture: Religion, Consumer Behaviour and Marketing.

The book “For God’s Sake – An Adman on the Business of Religion”, published by Penguin India, explores the many ways religion intersects with consumer behavior in our country. As our country has become more prosperous, more literate, more modern, we are not abandoning our age old religious beliefs and practices. In fact we are continuing to hold many of the religious practices dear to us. The book looks are various dimensions of this phenomena: How have festivals grown in our country? Why is it that 50% of all tourism travel related to religion? How does entertainment landscape get shaped by religion? How come women are portrayed in advertising without a bindi, though they are very religious? How big is religious music industry, and why is it still growing? How is religion marrying technology? Does it make sense to bring in religious studies into management education?

The book is an anecdotal look at religion and consumption. It is likely that the seeds of this book were laid in IIT Madras where I got to listen to Swami Chinmayananda and also learnt about Transcendental Meditation.

What you learn at IIT Madras stays with you. For God’s Sake!

– Ambi M G Parameswaran

Please find the link to the official media release of Dr. Parameswaran’s latest book, “For God’s Sake”, at this link:- https://chennai36.iitm.ac.in/for-gods-sake-media-release/