Stock - Tanvir Kanji
Tanvir Kanji was the consummate ad industry professional. His agency, Inca Tanvir, through the decades crafted some outstanding creative work. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Tanvir Kanji, one of UAE’s advertising industry pioneers, died late Sunday and left behind a rich body of work that still resonates with audiences.

He was among the group of talented ad professionals who came in from Mumbai (Bombay at the time) in the 1980s and then launched their careers - and agencies - just as the UAE was picking up prominence as a destination for global brands. 

Kanji (who was 77) launched his own ad agency, Inca Tanvir, and was also founding member of the International Advertising Association – UAE Chapter in 1979. He remained President of the Chapter until late 2006. The UAE Chapter has been a recipient of the Golden Tulip Award for Excellence - twice over.

Ad personality
In a storied career, Tanvir Kanji was named as Dubai Lynx's 'Advertising Person of the Year' for 2009.

"TK as he was fondly known in the ad world had a success track record as someone who perfectly understood advertising and the consumer," said Dr. Suneil Anand, CEO of Inca Tancir. "I am deeply devestated at this loss - he was my guru, my mentor, friend, and father for almost 40 years. The loss seems as if I am bankrupt.

With his passing, its an end of an era. TK was a legend of the advertising world, always brimming with creative ideas and someone who understood how to connect with the consumer. Above all, a wonderful human being. It's a huge personal loss for me - he will be deeply missed."

He will be missed by all of us who have seen UAE evolve from a locally-relevant economy to a globally-relevant country

- Avi Bhojani, CEO of BPG Group

Hotbed of creativity

According to ad industry sources, Kanji built his reputation by casting Inca Tanvir as a boutique agency strong on creatives. Over the years, the agency has picked up a string of wins for some of its works, many of which had a social responsibility theme.

“Tanvir Kanji was a pioneer in Dubai's advertising industry, often ahead of his time, but mostly relevant with the changing times," said Avi Bhojani, CEO of BPG Group. "He will be missed by all of us who have seen UAE evolve from a locally-relevant economy to a globally-relevant country. RIP Tanvir.”

A goodbye forever
In a statement, the IAA - UAE Chapter, which brings together agencies, advertisers and other stakeholders, said: "A true advertising statesman has left us. Tanvir Kanji helped the IAA - UAE chapter for over four decades, giving so much back to the ad industry that he loved so much.

"Tanvir's contribution to the growth and success of the IAA UAE chapter will never be forgotten. He served for over 40 years. As Dubai grew, so did the IAA UAE Chapter, and its recognition reached new heights under Tanvir's presidency when it hosted the IAA World Congress in Dubai in 2006.

The Congress welcomed over 2,000 guests from 67 countries and went down in history as one of the IAA's most successful. Tanvir was an inspiration to everyone in the ad field and will forever be remembered as an industry leader, a gentleman and a great friend to all that knew him."

Stick to his strengths

The emphasis on being known as a creative agency – the focus on ideas – and then serve up the messaging in ways that are relevant to the brand and its audiences was a constant for Kanji. It was one aspect there was never going to be a re-negotiation on.

That didn’t mean those ideals got side-lined in the digital age. “The best crafted creative campaigns will stand out across platforms,” Kanji had told ‘Gulf News’ at the time he was named IAA – UAE Chapter’s ‘Advertising Person of the Year’. “I don’t see why that shouldn’t be the case with digital creatives too.”