IAA Malaysia celebrates 25th year with inaugural Hall of Fame awards

THREE marketing communications industry stalwarts and two faculties of an educational institute were honoured in the recent inaugural International Advertising Association (IAA) Hall of Fame as part of the 25th anniversary of the Malaysian chapter of the association.

This year also marks the 80th anniversary of IAA in New York.

“Although Malaysia is small player in a field of giants, our humble honourees have made a deep imprint in our industry through their professionalism, selflessness and dedication over the course of many decades,” said John Chacko, president of IAA Malaysia, in his opening address at the event on Nov 17 at the Gallery, TPC Kuala Lumpur.

The first recipient and inductee into the IAA Hall of Fame in Malaysia, Datuk Ho Kay Tat, is the publisher and CEO of The Edge, and also a past IAA Malaysia president.

The consummate newspaper man showed extraordinary leadership and fortitude when he took a bold step in exposing the 1MDB financial scandal in a series of articles.

“He risked his safety and livelihood in the pursuit of the truth – and stuck to his story despite the inevitable consequences,” lauded Chacko.

The other two honourees – Harmandar Singh (also a past IAA president) and Tony Savarimuthu – were distinguished for their respective contributions in the sphere of advertising, creative drive, and talent development.

Harmandar, a one-man industry dynamo, got into the publishing game with Adoi, often cited as the marketing communications industry guide, and currently with Marketing.

Among his many accomplishments include operating an advertising school, writing a weekly column for New Straits Times and The Star, founding and organising industry events including APPIES Malaysia, Malaysian CMO Conference, and Product of the Year awards, and leading media missions for Mercy Malaysia to Nepal and Syria.

For over 25 years, Savarimuthu has fronted agencies with a “mad man” thrust that earned him the H.K McCann Leadership Award for outstanding performance.

As the point person on the Petronas account at Leo Burnett, Savarimuthu, jointly with the late Yasmin Ahmad and Ali Mohamed, created some of the most endearing advertising campaigns for the client. Last year, he was awarded the IAA Inspire Global Champion Award for his numerous contributions in advancing the IAA and the marketing communications industry.

The current CEO of Merdeka and Dentsu LHS also served the industry as a two-term 4As president, chaired the first Malaysia’s Most Valuable Brands project, and introduced a multitude of initiatives to maintain high standards within the industry.

Two UiTM faculties – Communications and Media Studies and Faculty of Art and Design – were inducted in the IAA Hall of Fame. UiTM pioneer, educationist Tan Sri Arshad Ayob, who recently celebrated his 90th birthday, envisioned a mass communications centre in 1972, the only one in the country then.

Both faculties have produced such luminaries as creative directors Hamdan Omar and Ali Mohamed, artists Tajuddin Ismail and Ahmad Zaki Anwar, local advertising agency leaders Azizul Kallahan and Shukri Rifaie, and journalists Datuk Seri Jalil Hamid, Aishah Ali and Nuraini Samad.

Among the highlights of the IAA Malaysia anniversary event was a presentation on ‘Democratising Artificial Intelligence’ by AGORI, the primary sponsor of the event, and a presentation by IAA India on the IAA World Congress set to take place in February 2019 in Cochin, India.

Separately, Dentsu Aegis Network hosted the two-day Global Education meeting attended by Srinivasan Swamy, IAA Global Chairman, Dagmara Szulce, IAA Global Managing Director, and senior IAA office bearers from the United States, Australia, India, and Kuwait. It marked the first occasion in IAA history where a Global event was held in Malaysia.

IAA is the only organisation that congregates marketers, advertising, media, digital and public relations agencies, as well as media companies, research firms, and educators. It is a professional body with over 4,000 members globally in 76 countries. The IAA is headquartered in New York.

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