Ad industry remembers Ranjan as a humble man with a razor sharp wit

The legend's demise has deeply saddened top industry executives, many of whom looked up to him as guiding force


The death of legendary ad man Ranjan Kapur came as a big blow to the advertising industry. The Chairman of WPP India suffered a cardiac arrest on January 27, which led to his death. Honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award by AAAI in 2008 for his contribution to the advertising industry, Kapur has been a mentor to many. Fondly remembered by his colleagues as a humble man with a razor sharp wit, he always used to say, ‘If the headline can say it, why have any body copy?’

Also having served long stints in senior positions at Ogilvy & Mather India Private Limited (O&M), he made sure that O&M India occupies a pride of place in the global O&M family.

The news of his passing away has shattered the industry is an understatement, with many a coveted ad men looking up to him as the ad world’s forerunner and also a father figure.

According to Shashi Sinha, CEO, IPG Mediabrands India, Kapur was a wonderful person. He said, “He was warm to all. He did a great job of building Ogilvy into a creative powerhouse when he took over.”

Ashish Bhasin, Chairman and CEO South Asia Dentsu Aegis Network, reckoned him to be an institution with a never-say-die attitude. “This is a tremendous loss to the industry; people like Ranjan (Kapur) were institutions. He was one of the last few remaining gentlemen in the business of advertising. He was full of life right until the end. Just about 10 days before he passed away he had a lot of people from the industry over at his home for lunch, on that day he was discussing with me about him making a fresh investment in a digital company, at that age! He had a never-say-die attitude. Back in 2000 when there was recession and Ranjan was running Ogilvy, I remember someone asking about how the business was doing during recession. He quipped, ‘Recession, what’s that? We’ve heard about it, but we have decided not to join it.’ That was his approach to business and to life. He had the Punjabi aggression couched in a velvet gentleman’s glove."

Sam Balsara, Chairman & MD, Madison World said he was a man ahead of his times. “Until recently he and I both served on the Marico Innovation Foundation. During his time Ranjan (Kapur) has done a lot of trailblazing stuff. I think he was one of the first exports from India to the US market in the early 80s. He was a person who was exposed to advertising all around the world. He tried to bring in many of those concepts to India ahead of their time. He was a wonderful person who kept good relationships with everyone and, in fact, as recently as 10 days ago he had a big industry party at his house and it’s very sad for me, especially, because he was going to come to our house on Thursday. I would say, may his soul rest in eternal peace,” said Balsara.

For Raj Nayak, COO – Viacom18, Kapur’s contribution to O&M, the WPP group and the Indian advertising industry is unparalleled. He said, “He was a man with a vision. A good mix of creative and business, he was a good people’s person. Many top advertising professionals blossomed under his leadership. He was a mentor and a father figure to many. Jimi and he made a beautiful couple and were loved by everyone whose lives they touched. He was a living legend whose heart was growing younger by the day. His sudden death came as a shock to everyone in the industry. How much he was respected and how much he was loved could be gauged by the attendance of the who’s who at his funeral. The industry has lost a legend and for many like me a father figure, a mentor and a friend. We will miss you sir, you will stay in our hearts forever.”‬

Nakul Chopra, Chairman, BARC India, said, “I never had the honour of working with him but I think he was, perhaps, the classiest act that our industry has seen for a long time and there is no doubt about it. A very interesting chapter in our industry's history comes to an end. It’s a huge loss.”

Rohit Ohri, Group Chairman and CEO, FCB India, said, “I met him a couple of times and what struck me was that he was a perfect gentleman and all those who have worked with him echo this. His achievement is something that nobody can take away from him. He was a rare mix of a great professional and a great human being.”

Sumanto Chattopadhyay, Chairman and Chief Creative Officer, Soho Square,  felt contented about being able to reconnect with him few days ago. He recalled, “As I admired the art in his beautiful home, he spoke to me enthusiastically about it. He also spoke about the beautiful view of the sun setting over the sea that he enjoyed every evening from his window. While Ranjan was a visionary business leader, it is his creative side that I relate to -- the distinctive clay sculptures he made, the illustrations and photographs he posted on Facebook and the wry observations he made on some of my posts. Come to think of it, it is this same creativity that he applied to his work and personal life that made him the legend that he is. May the sun never set on his legacy.”
Bindu Sethi, Chief Strategy Officer - JWT India remembered Ranjan as people's man. "Every industry, organization needs a Ranjan Kapur. He had a genuine interest in people. An interest in the ideas that were being thought. And a wonderful inclusive warmth."

Roshan Abbas, MD, Encompass Events, said, "I have known him ever since Encompass and WPP came together in 2008. In the last 10 years if there is a thorough gentleman whom I have come across and someone who always had a good word of advice and was willing to listen to you, it was him. I saw him as someone who led the greatest agency and was a doyen of advertising. He used to be so humble and kind and I was really shocked when I got to know the news of his passing away. I will miss all his advice and it’s very shocking for the industry which has lost one of its stalwarts.”

Lynn D’souza, Former Chairperson and CEO of Lintas Media Group, said, “My interaction with him was that of a starry eyed media planner because he was a such a respected name. He was suave, very knowledgeable and an extremely polite person. The impact that he has made on many lives is that of a true leader.”
Other media personalities like Eric Salama, CEO, The Kantar Group Limited and Devraj Sanyal, MD & CEO, Universal Music Group and even companies conveyed their heartfelt condolences for the late ad legend on social media platforms.














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