The one word that described everything that Ramani did was “Passion”. Passion for cricket, for his work, for new ideas, for creativity, for winning. Passion in his personal life, in his professional life, in parties, in office.
Ramani was never indifferent about anything. He either loved something or hated it. If he loved an idea, he would become a huge champion of it – screaming from the rooftops, fighting to get the idea implemented, scaring off any critics. If he hated the idea, he let you know in no uncertain terms.
I first got to know Ramani when I was a Management Trainee at Lintas and worked under his then wife, Sujata. Ramani and Sujata decided to take a group of us trainees under their care. Their home in Chembur became a pad for us to hang out in on weekends. A place to drink and eat; watch movies and play cricket. We had some really good times there.
Time moved on and I lost touch with him until he and I became co-founders of Euro RSCG in India along with Ishan and a few others. That was in 1996. For the next eight years or so, Ramani and I had a great partnership – a love-hate partnership. But a successful one, which helped us win numerous businesses and create great campaigns for our existing clients.
Today, the media and creative sides of the advertising business have grown so far apart, that people working on the same client, barely recognise each other. But back then, I couldn't imagine going into a pitch without a strong media partner. And Ramani was the best media partner I ever had. Ramani wasn’t a media planner or a media buyer. He was a “creative director - media”. Copywriters use words, art directors use visuals, Ramani’s mode of expression was media. That was the only difference. He could take an idea and make it come alive – often causing very bruised egos on the creative side. He didn’t really care about egos. To him the idea was way more important.
Ramani helped create Philips Top Ten (probably India’s first sponsored program), Philips [V] people (probably India’s first reality TV show) and so many other properties on TV and print for his clients. To him, the media sellers weren’t antagonists to be beaten down on costs, but collaborators in creating great properties.
Ramani spent the first decade of his career mastering TV. In his second decade, he mastered cable TV. And in his third decade in the industry he mastered the Internet. He pioneered the use of each of those mediums – forcing creative to push the envelope and pushing clients to buy innovative ideas.
Ramani was a creative man who loved data. He could tease out stories from numbers in ways that I had never seen before. He wrote bad looking slides that had columns and columns of numbers and I was always pushing him to clean up his slides. But when he presented them to clients, everyone was spellbound. Because he could ferret insights and detect trends that mere mortals could not.
I shall miss Ramani. More than that, the industry will miss Ramani. They don’t make media professionals like him any more.
The author is Founder & Innovation Artist, Marketing Unplugged.