Aurora Magazine

Promoting excellence in advertising

And then he was gone…

Published in May-Jun 2015
A tribute to Masood Hamid [1960-2015].
Photo by Tahir Jamal/WhiteStar.
Photo by Tahir Jamal/WhiteStar.

For the last 22 odd years, as I made my way to my office in the morning, meandering through the corridors of Haroon House, I would pass a door. It was a spot I had come to look upon as Haroon House’s ‘magnetic field of sound and energy’, as more often than not, an orchestra of high voltage sounds would seep through, as if on a loop, alternating between loud vocals and high pitched laugher punctuated by an intermittent and sharp clearing of the throat. And I would smile to myself, thinking... “all will be well today.”

On the other side of that door, there sat Masood Hamid conducting his business of the day.

That was Masood Hamid. High voltage energy, brimming with ideas.

For 22 years Masood has been my colleague and my friend. In each other’s office, the corridors and staircases of Haroon House, we would discuss work, exchange office gossip, share a joke and occasionally plot a prank on an unsuspecting colleague (which when executed would send us into bubbles of mirth, leaving everyone else to wonder about our respective mental ages). His was one of the voices most frequently heard at the end of my extension and whose texts would regularly pop up on my mobile’s screen. He was the person I would go to when I needed something to be fixed.

To write about Masood now, means taking a giant leap backwards, readjusting the focus and looking beyond the cut and thrust of the routine and the mundane. It may yet be too soon to gauge the full extent of his legacy; but there is no doubt in my mind that his place will be among Pakistan’s most outstanding media marketing professionals of his time. A role model for young Pakistanis ambitious to succeed by playing it straight and by the rules.

I first met Masood in late 1993 when I joined DAWN and he had been recently promoted from Manager Supplements to GM Marketing, DAWN. At that point, DAWN was still in the enviable position of not really needing a sales department for its ROP business (tellingly, Masood had honed his skills in the supplements section) as advertising would literally walk in through the door. In fact, the busy people in the Sales Department were those in charge of placing the advertisements and making the ‘dummy’. Of course, sales visits were made, but it was more about keeping the PR going and ensuring that no advertising slipped though the net.

The times, however, were changing and over the course of the next 22 years, Pakistan’s media landscape would evolve beyond recognition. New newspapers and magazines were launched, the number of TV channels went from one to two to five to 80 plus, FM radio burst upon the scene and finally everything seemed to be going digital. Consumer finance came and went, but by then consumerism became an entrenched Pakistani habit as more and more brands set their sights on a market which despite economic dysfunction promised a healthy bottom line. Media became the battlefield where brands slugged it out for market dominance. Walk-in advertising was a luxury long gone and all media, including DAWN, had to go out and compete for every advertising rupee.

And so it was that in 1993, under Masood’s leadership, DAWN’s marketing department began its transformation. Sensing the changing times, one of his early moves was to rename his department the Marketing Department. He then went on to build one of the strongest newspaper and magazine marketing teams in Pakistan; a team able to work with successive tariff increases and still deliver the advertising, even in times of crisis, when clients abruptly pulled back on their spend across all media due to a faltering economy or a political blowback. In fact, Masood was virtually unstoppable. His buoyancy, his professionalism, his ability to improvise and his talent for spotting an opportunity, even in economically adverse times, enabled him to keep pulling in the advertising, as the Dawn Group of Newspapers evolved into a multimedia organisation – from print to digital, radio and TV – to become the Dawn Media Group in 2008.

Masood was the architect of DAWN’s high profile and commercially successful events. As early as 1997 he organised a conference at the Finance and Trade Centre in Karachi called Vision Pakistan 2010, in collaboration with the World Bank. In 2000 he took the idea further by staging the exhibition IT: The Future of Pakistan and holding it at the Expo Centre, paving the way for the venue to become the established choice for all other high profile commercial events held in Karachi. In 2001, he launched what was to become his nationwide blockbuster success, the Dawn All About Lifestyles exhibition, which continues to be the largest brand-to-consumer event in Pakistan, and in 2004 he established the Dawn Education Expo; now in its 12th edition, this is the only platform in Pakistan to consistently, year-on-year, attract senior representation from foreign higher educational institutes to interface with students in Pakistan. In 2011, he launched the Dawn Agri Expo, now in its 4th edition, and recently he was busy planning another major event aimed at encouraging direct foreign investment in Pakistan. There are so many initiatives to his credit and it would be impossible to catalogue every one in this space.

In his pursuit of DAWN’s commercial success and his dedication to promoting all that was hip, happening and good in Pakistan, he was nothing but dogged and determined. If one door closed he would try another, then another, until eventually he found the one that would open. He never gave up, and if on occasion he had to retreat, he would bide his time and then have his way.

Yet, despite his driven schedule, he was immensely generous with his time. He had a large professional and social network which he used liberally to help any cause or person that might benefit from a word placed in the right place. Walk into a room full of marketing professionals and over 50% of them will tell you how, in one way or another, they owe their progression to Masood’s support and advice. Part of his legacy will be found in the many marketing professionals, swiftly progressing up the corporate ladder and whom he mentored.

Then there was his family. And he was devoted to them. To his late parents, his brothers, Mahmood and Majid; his sisters, Shaheena, Seema and Samina. He cherished his wife Afshan for her gentleness, patience and unquestioning companionship. Tooba, his daughter, Asad, his son, were the apple of his eyes.

Despite his success, Masood remained an intrinsically modest man. Self congratulation was never part of his repertoire – although when it came to his team, no one could ever mistake his delight when their efforts were recognised. There was no arrogance about Masood. He was immensely approachable; no request was too trivial to entertain, no person too unimportant to give time to, and no idea too far-fetchted to not explore.

He had energy, bounce, vitality, fizz, pizzazz. He brought with him the promise of endless new ideas.

And then he was gone.

Mariam Ali Baig is Editor, Aurora.

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Comments (25)

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Sohaib Alvi May 19, 2015 12:23pm

Mariam, You have written it in the energy and pace that was so intrinsic to Masood. I felt as if it was him talking about himself in his own inimitable style, something of course he would never do because as you said he was so modest. Yes I miss him every day for the reasons you have written here; you and the staff at Dawn were lucky to spend so much time with him. Some people are not meant to go. Perhaps he hasn't in a special way.

IBN E ASHFAQUE May 19, 2015 12:24pm

The article made me ponder about the day when like Mr. Masood I would be gone too. The question I could not answer to myself were; Have I thought it through? Am I prepared? and where do I end up? Thanks for the article Mariam.

kAU May 19, 2015 01:01pm

I Knew Masood Bhai(MB) as I use to call him . He gave me My first job and I have never looked back. He was the most decent humble soul I have ever met . And indeed he is gone. I owe so much to him . but its unfortunate that Pakistanis have no clue what's happening around them . slowly but surely those who were doing good things for this country are being taken away. either fleeing and setting nests in other countries Or In the case Of My beloved MB just being taken away in this senseless way.

Nidhin Olikara May 19, 2015 03:23pm

I have never met Mr. Masood. To be honest I heard of him first the day he was shot. But I have been reading Dawn online from India since '98. And if he was among those responsible for making Dawn such a fine newspaper as it has been, he must truly have been a rocket of a man. I am sure the staffers he worked with would have inherited some spark from his fire. May he rest in Peace.

samina May 19, 2015 04:00pm

What a tribute to celebrate his life Thank you

Asfia May 19, 2015 04:51pm

Marium every word described Masood Hamid so well here.. it brought bk memories of his "high voltage" energy, voice, dedicatiion n so on, while reading ur piece. Though its been 10yrs since i worked with him..but never lost track of him in all these yrs. He called me to wish my birthday reminding me each yr how he remembers it without a reminder on his phone..remember the time he ruptured his tendun n had a plaster on his foot for 6 long months.. he is sooo immensely missed n will always be alive for me..

Sanjeev Kumar May 19, 2015 05:49pm

Wish to know more about the man

Rustom Boga May 19, 2015 06:04pm

Its tough to ask people to know Masood through a tribute. Its just not enough. Knowing Masood is a tribute on its own, a man of versatility, a great believer in himself and his passion. I was privileged to have known him for over 30 years and can proudly say that he was a man of guts and glory at work and off site; stuff that men are supposed to be made of. Wherever he may be, his genuine laughter with a shaking belly will be heard. I do miss him.

ADNAN NAYAB May 19, 2015 06:30pm

I met young (35 years old) Masood Hamid when i was starting up my own career, went for the job interview he offered me the job which i couldn't take due to reasons i forgot now. I hardly spend 20 mins with him but definitely those 20 mins left an indelible mark on me for the next 20 years and the count is still on. You are dot on Mariam, he was very charismatic and genuine person with no hang ups. RIP......

IMRAN ALI May 19, 2015 06:59pm

Masood Hamid...he was great ,helping friendly...I came to know him through my nephew who was working under him...

sukhera May 19, 2015 07:03pm

This is very sad to see a young man's life cut short by a coward. Masood was a man of many talents . His death appears to be a target killing. I am not sure if his murderer has been apprehended by the police.

Shoaib. F May 19, 2015 07:20pm

I met Masood in 1985 when I was doing a PGD course in Marketing along with him , I did know him for 2 years or he used to come to my house and I used to visit his , then I went abroad and lost contact. He seemed to me as someone who was very ambitious and had big goals and was a very friendly guy. I was shocked that he is no more in this world through Dawn.com , all though we lost contact for more then 30 years but I still remember him and his ideas. May he rest in peace.

seemi May 19, 2015 11:33pm

How he died?

Suren May 19, 2015 11:34pm

Ms. Baig, an excellent tribute to Mr. Masood who is no longer with us. You were fortunate to meet such a kind, modest, selfless human being. Very few people come across such people in their lifetime. His legacy and honesty will continue for ever. May his soul rest in peace.

Vinod Mirani May 19, 2015 11:49pm

My Salaams to Masood Hamid. He will rest in peace and still be remembered.

Human May 20, 2015 01:12am

Masood Hamid, a great human being. Miss you Sir.

Amer Awan May 20, 2015 04:22am

May you sprit ,always be free..RIP masood Bhai...

Mashood Ahsan May 20, 2015 05:48am

I was introduced to Masood Hamid by Tauqir Mohajir the then GM Marketing or supplement Manager. Being a air time marketing person of Radio Pakistan my schedule was pretty much the same as his. We more then often used to bump into each other in either some advertising agency or seminar. Then I moved to US. About two years back he came to St. Louis and called and we spent memorable time. He was gem of a person. May his soul rest in peace.

nagina faruque May 20, 2015 08:00am

"What's the difference between God and...?" I'm not going to completethe joke because if you haven't heard it form Masood, it's not worth hearing. So many yeards later, it still makes Najam and I laugh. I think that's a great memory to hold on to; Laughter. Thank you Masood.

Imran May 20, 2015 09:39am

Still no trace or feedback from Dawn as who killed him and why??

Yasmin Malik May 20, 2015 10:06am

A legend. Terrible loss to the nation and to the media world. Mariam, highly evocative article. Must have been extremely painful to put down the words for it....

Seema Rafi Ahmed May 21, 2015 12:51am

I miss u Masood , ur big Sister Seema

Shawn Rae May 21, 2015 01:01am

I had met Masood initially in the Mid-nineties when he came to visit me in Florida, USA. We spent a couple of days and I showed him around S. Florida. I learned quite a lot from some of his unique thoughts and ideas. I also, had the good fortune to meet him in 2005, when I was doing some documentary work for the Earthquake in Pakistan. And again in 2010, on my Interfaith Harmony tour that led me to Pakistan, where he graciously introduced me to the media also. Mariam, you have really described Masood wonderfully well! I'd like to add that I was really impressed with his grasp of ideas about human interaction and global citizenship! He was a very kind and humble man! I can see why he is truly missed by all that have had the honor of knowing him! May God bless him and give his family the strength to bear this very tragic loss! When I visit Pakistan, I will surely make it a point to visit and pay my respects to his family. Pakistan has really lost one of its great sons! ShawnRae.com

Tahawur Jafri May 21, 2015 01:20pm

A beautiful piece very well written and perfect description about Masood sahib's dynamic and inspiring personality.

I met him in January at his home when I appreciated a lamp sitting on a stool in his lounge, the very next morning he said let's meet. When I came to PC to see he had a similar lamp he gave me as gift. What a great man he was

We love him

Tahawur Jafri

Sana Apr 18, 2017 12:52am

I felt angry reading the piece and comments. If Masood sahib was so great and so deeply missed, why are you all not on the streets asking for his murder/s to br caught and punished.