Sunday morning saw ex-colleagues and friends of SR Mani Ayer coming together in Bangalore to celebrate the life and quirks of the advertising legend. As Vijay Bhat rightly put at the beginning of the meet, that the occasion, though a solemn one, was also to celebrate the man who had touched the people attending in one way or the other. Thus, setting the mood of the occasion, the people recounted their experiences and learnings from being with Ayer, who is very much responsible for making Ogilvy what it is today – successful and an institution for advertising.
Bhaskar Bhat, Managing Director, Titan Industries, recollected, “It was not just advertising that I remember him for. I can recall that those days I was in sales, and Mr Ayer would understand the dilemma of a salesperson and would talk to us from our perspective. I credit him for a lot of fundamentals that we have at Titan today. In fact, long term relationship is not just about output, but also about people who can make it meaningful, and Ayer was among one of those few people who could actually claim this to be true for himself.”
There were many recollections of how Ayer would point his long finger at people and call them to his cabin for discussions, which many would ideally have liked to avoid, or how he would just say ‘Rubbish’ in his characteristic way to an issue, which his colleagues would be agonising over. Ever recollection gave an insight into the gem that Ayer was and how he was a keen observer of people around him. This especially rang true as he remembered the names of each and every employee of the company down to even the peons.
There were many light moments too during the gathering, when many pointed out his quirks and remembered him fondly. It was the commitment that he made to the people and to the clients’ business that was extraordinary to many who took over Ogilvy (then SH Benson) and actually responsible for turning the fortune of the company.
He had to take money from the employees PF to turn around the company and as promised, he paid dividends to his people after one year, when company performed well.
Roda Mehta, who had worked closely with Ayer, remembered him as a person who instilled a legacy of enduring values among people who worked with him at Ogilvy. She said, “There is so much demonstration of love, respect and affection by the fraternity in his death and their remembrance of him. I just hope that when he lived, he had known this that there were so many who looked up to him.” Click here to view video