A tribute to the inspiring, audacious and iconic institution that was Ram Ray

Industry stalwarts recount memories of the advertising doyen and pay their tribute to the man referred to as 'the giant of Indian advertising'

e4m by Misbaah Mansuri
Published: Nov 14, 2019 7:11 AM  | 4 min read
Ram Ray

The demise of ad guru and Chairman of Response India Private Limited, Ram Ray after a prolonged illness on Tuesday left everyone shook. Ray, who has been conferred with titles such as ad guru and doyen of Indian advertising for his passion, dedication, talent, and creativity, was the only non-American to have headed Walter Thompson [JWT] USA’s Madras, Bengaluru and Kolkata offices since the days of HTA. He also headed JWT San Francisco and served on the operating boards of JWT, India, and the USA. He initiated JWT in Colombo, started JWT affiliates’ networking in West Asia, Egypt and Bangladesh and blueprinted JWT USA’s startup operation in Dallas.

Concurrently working as the CEO of Clarion, now Bates from 1992-98, Ram Ray was running his own agency, Response India in Kolkata since 1985. Under his leadership, Response India became one of the leading advertising agencies of the country with a diverse client portfolio. He also founded Wysiwyg Communications in Kolkata and co-founded Ray+Keshavan Design Associates in Bengaluru.

In 2014, he was conferred with the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Bengal Chamber of Commerce and Industry for his contributions to the field of advertising. He was also a founder member and past president of Concern for Calcutta. Industry stalwarts recount memories of the advertising doyen and pay their tribute to the man referred to as “the giant of Indian advertising”.

Remembering Ram Ray

Amer Jaleel - Group CCO and Chairman, MullenLowe Lintas Group

"Thanks to Ram Ray, a tiny agency called Clarion had Apple Macs before the heavyweights of its time. Thanks to Ram Ray, a small room that was reserved for his visits to the Bombay office, would be filled with aromas of the fanciest street food the city had to offer. Thanks to Ram Ray, an extremely talented and motivated group of advertising people Kiran, Ajit, and Samit left their cushy jobs to take up the job of resurrecting Clarion. Thanks to Ram Ray, the crumbling brand business of Calcutta always felt proud, audacious and charming. Thanks to Ram Ray, a young creative team, Naren and Amer developed their hearing and listening skills. Thanks to Ram Ray, there waddled a jolly giant amidst the strides of the giants of that glorious time. Thanks to Ram Ray, we learnt what it is to be a huge inside icon to generations of professionals without hardly being noticed on the outside."

 Tarun Rai, Group CEO & Chairman, Wunderman Thompson South Asia

“My interactions with Ram Ray, though limited were cherished. One of the advertising greats of our time, his contribution to both JWT and our industry was significant. He will be missed immensely particularly by the JWT family who will always be indebted to his work, commitment and dedication.”

Sumanto Chattopadhyay, Chairman and Chief Creative Officer, 82.5 Communications Pvt Ltd

“Ram Ray gave me my first job, at his Kolkata-based agency, Response. He remained a mentor, observing my progress from afar -- and getting in touch to wish me well in every new endeavour.”

Samit Sinha, Managing Partner, Alchemist Brand Consulting

If I had to tweet about Ram, that would have been an impossible task for me. There is no way that I could have summarised him in 140 or even 280 characters. He was too multi-dimensional to be shoe-horned into a single, neat definition. Probably, the closest someone has come to the impossible, is when he was inducted into the Hall of Fame by the Calcutta Advertising Club in 2013 as the “The Last Renaissance Man.”

Rohit Ohri, CEO, FCB India

Ray was a perfectionist. He had a compulsive obsession for detail. Every letter, yes letter not email, we wrote to our clients was checked by him. The next day, the letters we had written the previous day, would be back at our desks with his notations. I got a letter back once, marred by his signature black ink pen. He wrote... 'you have used 366 words in this letter. You could have communicated better with only 126 words. Here's how'. These lessons in communication have stayed with me and will stay with me forever.

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