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Nickname sums up Individual's personality and character

A nickname that’s cute, catchy, or even better, funny, tends to stick. Ad land is strewn with such colourful monikers - and BE gets to the bottom of these popular name games.

, ET Bureau|
Jan 14, 2009, 04.35 AM IST
A good nickname is many things; it sums up an individual���s personality, characteristic traits or his or her reputation . Consider Punch and Pinch. As strange as these dubs might sound, they do belong to two mighty powerful people in the media business - Arthur O Sulzberger and his son Arthur Sulzberger, owners of New York Times Company.

Or take disgraced Lehman Brothers CEO Richard Fuld, who was nicknamed ���The Gorilla��� for his intimidating presence. Ad world is no stranger to shortened pet appellations. One of Indian advertising���s marquee names, Alyque Padamsee, was referred to as ���God��� by many of his associates - a name, according to ad folklore, he acquired when another advertising great, Mohammed Khan, was parked outside Padamsee���s office. A surprised passerby asked Khan why he, of all people, was kept waiting. Khan apparently replied, ���Even Mohammed has to wait for God.���

Although not biblical in proportion, KV Sridhar���s nickname ���Pops��� helped nail his reputation as a fatherly figure in ad land. Leo Burnett���s NCD has a six-foot tall junior creative, also called Sridhar, to thank: while the latter was given the tag of ���Baby��� Sridhar, Pops was called ���Papa��� Sridhar. Over time, the snappier version kicked in. Although not one to regret it, the name has put Pops in a bit of spot several times.

He remembers an occasion when an unacquainted young man mistook him to be R Balakrishnan���s (in truncated form, Balki) father - because a colleague pointed to the duo and said ���Balki is with Pops.��� In another tale, Pops was greeted by a man holding up a placard that read, ���Mister Pops.��� Funnily, some even add a respectful flourish at the end, resulting in ���Pops-ji��� .

Yet, Pops confesses: ���It���s wonderful to hear people call me Pops; it shoves out all formalities.��� Most admen embrace their nicknames wholeheartedly . For Rediffusion Y&R���s group CEO Mahesh Chauhan, it was just a matter of deleting the ���he��� in Mahesh to get Mash. ������ Mash��� sounds more like me,��� he quips. There���s no question of getting his ���nickers in a twist either. He says, ���Tomorrow, if someone comes up with a more suitable nickname, that would work too.���

Many sobriquets are won at work, but there are some nicknames - like Mahendra ���Mike��� Khanna���s and Nabankur ���Nobby��� Gupta���s - that go way back in time. While the former chief of JWT came back with a globalised modification of his name after a study stint abroad (Yum! Restaurant���s CMO Muktesh Pant also became ���Micky��� in America), for ���Nobby��� goes back to school, where Gutpa���s buddies called him ���Noddy��� since Gupta was a keen reader of Enid Blyton���s popular book character.

���Nabankur was a mouthful for them,��� he explains. Noddy went on to IIT-Kanpur , where logic prevailed and ���Nobby��� came into being. Gupta reckons, ���If a name is identifiable and stands out in a crowd, it works even in professional domains - as long as it���s not embarrassing, of course!��� Taking its use one step further, Gupta���s named his brand consultancy firm Nobby Brand Architects. He���ll tell you the IIMs and IITs are the places to get your nickname; everyone has one that usually gets stuck for life.

Take Partha Sinha aka ���Panchu��� , for instance. The planning head for BBH India earned Panchu while at IIT- Kharagpur, and while he���d hoped to lose the name when he moved on to IIM-Ahmedabad , luck deserted him. However, Sinha grew to love the dub, and today his closest friends, clients and associates know him only as Panchu. The NCD of Draftfcb Ulka, KS Chakravarthy, had his nicknaming ceremony in engineering college.

Here���s how. Chakravarthy was the ���cool guy��� in college - the student body head, he���d sport that signature beard, and white kurtas with jeans always tucked into his leather boots, whizzing around campus on a Bullet. As ���Chakravarthy��� was too ���orthodox��� and didn���t do full justice, his peers conjured up a sexier Anglicised version that���s endured - Chax.

Nicknames not only progress from college into professional life; sometimes, they can be traced back to childhood. Try this one: do you know any famous ad guy named Prasanna Pawar? No? Okay, then Bobby Pawar? Ah... Prasanna became ���Bobby��� when his aunt affectionately bestowed the name, and today, virtually no one knows Pawar���s real name.

���Practically everyone calls me Bobby , except my wife - who calls me ���Prasan��� when she gets mad at me,��� laughs the chief creative officer of Mudra. And for Abhijit Avasthi, born around the time of the 1972 Munich Olympics, it was his family that decided to call him ���Kinu��� after an Ethiopian long-distance runner. ���They must have thought it would have some positive effect on me and might help me in the long run,��� Avasthi���s philosophical tone belying his sense of humour.

He adds that when he joined his uncle Piyush (Pandey) at O&M , he wondered if people at O&M would call him by his nickname. ���My question was answered when Ranjan Kapur greeted me with ���Welcome to O&M , Kinu!��� That was that,��� he says.

This is far from being a comprehensive list. More and even funnier monikers exist, but as this is a family magazine, it���s best we let some tales stay untold...
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