Rishad Tobaccowala says publishing future doesn't fit mindsets of the past


Rishad Tobaccowala
Rishad Tobaccowala

RRishad Tobaccowala, chief strategy and innovation officer of VivaKi and one of the world’s leading marketers, will present at the INMA World Congress Monday, May 16, in New York.

Tobaccowala aims to talk about how the future doesn't fit in the containers or mindsets of the past — specifically providing a perspective on how to see reality, stop fretting the old stuff and start getting the new stuff.

Below is a biography provided by Tobaccowala’s office that gives you a flavour for his diverse background.

Tobaccowala helps guide strategy and serves as a catalyst to innovation efforts across Vivaki — a Publicis Groupe entity that combines the collective scale, clout and talent sitting inside of Denuo, Digitas, Razorfish, Starcom MediaVest Group (SMG) and ZenithOptimedia. Working closely with brand CEOs and VivaKi Country Chairs, he helps VivaKi’s companies show clients the way forward in an exciting and changing time for marketing.

Prior to his current role, Tobaccowala was CEO of Denuo — a Publicis Groupe company that invents, inspires and instigates new forms of creativity to help brands meet challenges of modern marketplaces.

Tobaccowala has also served as the Chief Innovation Officer of Publicis Groupe Media and was the founder and President of SMG Next, the first and most comprehensive futures practice in the media industry. The development of SMG Next resulted in the launch of several successful practices for SMG including: SMG Play, the first company to leverage videogames as a marketing platform; word-of-mouth practice Reverb; and Digits, a leader in mobile marketing. Tobaccowala was also responsible for developing SMG Search, a dedicated unit of SMG that specializes in leveraging search applications in new ways.

Before conceptualizing SMG NEXT, Tobaccowala was president and founder of SMG IP, the digital arm of SMG. As such, he played a central role in the agency, which was selected by Media in 2002 and 2004 as Interactive Agency of The Year.

In 1993, Tobaccowala formed Leo Burnett’s Interactive Marketing Group. Between 1996 and 1999, he served as the President of Giant Step, Leo’s interactive agency.

Tobaccowala was named by BusinessWeek as one of the top business leaders for his pioneering innovation (2005), and TIME magazine dubbed him one of five “Marketing Innovators.” He was appointed to Advertising Age's Interactive Hall of Fame; named Adweek's 2000 Media All-Star for Interactive Media; and honored by OMMA as a Media Strategist All-Star in 2005. In 2008, he was named an industry legend by Ad Color, and in 2009, conferred an Industry Achievement award at ad:tech for long-term dedication and industry service.

In addition to the VivaKi board, he serves on the board of directors for leading behavioral marketing firm Audience Science, distributed media network Snap (an Idealab Company) and Recycle Bank. He also serves as an advisor to a broad range of companies, including Rocket Fuel, Greycroft Partners, House Party, Marketshare Partners, My6Sense, Viewpoints, Visible Measures and the Berlin School of Creative Leadership.

Tobaccowala holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the University of Bombay and an M.B.A. from the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago.

For a preview of his INMA presentation, click on the video below for a 2010 interview looking at the profound changes in the media business.


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