Promax/BDA, the international television-promotions organization, opened its annual Asia Pacific Conference in Mumbai, India, last Tuesday, July 11—the same day that terrorists bombed the city’s commuter trains during evening rush hour, killing nearly 200 people.
In a series of phone messages to B&C, Promax CEO Jim Chabin reported that all of the conferees were attending a cocktail reception and were unharmed, and described the mood at the conference.
"Cellphones started going off … at about 6:45 or 7:00," Chabin said. "We started hearing the local reports. One of the train stations [is] about a mile from the Hyatt where we are meeting."
Chabin said that Promax members were in London during the bombing a year ago and in New York on 9/11 and noted the familiar sense of confusion and loss in Mumbai.
"People with pictures of their family, at the train station, asking, ‘Have you seen my father?’ ‘Have you seen my wife?’" he said. "It’s that sense of 9/11 that is so sad because that look in their eyes is something you’ve seen before in New York."
Chabin recounted comments he delivered at the conference the next day, which poignantly touched on the unfortunate coincidence of the chosen theme of the conference: "Changing Platforms Without Missing the Train."
"The icon we picked for our stage set was a train car, an Indian train," Chabin said. "The whole conference was themed around different [media] platforms you’ll need to master. We picked the icon of the train car as a symbol of community, of moving forward, and of the dynamic aspects of Indian life. And it was the same icon the bombers used to try to discourage everybody."
All the more reason, Chabin said, to remain steadfast: "Just as we learned in other markets, the one thing we don’t want to do is stop the show. So this train will continue to keep moving along."