In India's historic 'Pink City' of Jaipur, redolent with images of rajahs and elephants, fourteen hundred of the adworld's global elite packed the conference center as Ad Asia 2003, the biennial pan-Asian advertising conference, got under way Monday.
The note of friendship and cooperation was set by an outbreak of spontaneous goodwill toward the 22-strong delegation from neighboring Pakistan with whom India's political relations have been strained for decades - sometimes even on a war footing.
At the event's inauguration ceremony, warm and unprompted applause greeted Pakistan's delegation head Seema Jaffer, head of Karachi-based Bond Advertising.
But the biggest ovation was reserved for keynote speaker, Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan - himself probably India's biggest brand - whose speech upended the official conference theme: Break the Rules.
Bachchan contended that the market is king: rules are never broken; even going against the norm mirrors what the market wants. He cited the "angry man image in the 1970s [which] was a requirement at a time the [India-Pakistan] Emergency had been declared".
And the actor's own portrayal of the gameshow host in KBC "was again a requirement of a post-liberalisation age where younger consumers needed a reassuring face telling them that money isn’t a bad thing".
Data sourced from: The Times of India; additional content by WARC staff