Advertising legend Mani S Ayer passes away

MUMBAI: Ogilvy India’s former top boss and advertising legend SR Mani Ayer died today morning at the age of 74, after a brief illness.

Popularly known as Mani, Ayer was born on 5 September 1935. He joined Ogilvy in 1958, then SH Benson, as a copywriter and was with the company for 36 years before he hung his boots in 1994.
During his tenure at Ogilvy, he spent two years in Ogilvy Australia, prior to taking over the reins as MD in 1973. He was only 38 years old when he took on the role of Ogilvy India MD from Padubidri Sarma.

Ogilvy South Asia executive chairman and creative director Piyush Pandey said, "This is the end of an era, as one of the leading lights of Ogilvy India is no more with us. He was the one who laid the foundation of the Ogilvy of the 70s and beyond. His presence will be missed by the industry of which he was one of the architects. At a personal level, his teachings will continue to inspire me and a lot of people who have worked with him, for him or heard of him. Salaam Mr Ayer!"
Ayer is credited with laying the foundations of modern Ogilvy in India. He brought a high level of strategic thinking and business orientation into the advertising thinking process. He created a new wave that has today become the mantra of account handling/client servicing professionals in Ogilvy and ex Ogilvyites - always put the client first.

David Ogilvy described Ayer as, "The most outstanding individual in the Ogilvy Network."

Ogilvy issued a statement today, praising Ayer for all his dedication for the company. As per Ogilvy, he (Ayer) invested hugely in training - time and money. He would actually take time out to sit and observe a session being conducted by a new trainer to ensure they got it right.

He took enormous pride in the successes of his people and applauded as much as he provided constructive criticism on performances, reaching out to his people when they faltered. He was very particular about celebrating successes. He had an amazing capacity to learn constantly from varied sources and get to the heart of any issue, responding instantly and in a very systematic manner and form. Behind his tough, disciplinarian manner, Ayer was a man with a heart of gold.

Late Suresh Mullick had described Ayer: "Mani was, and always will be, a gifted all rounder. As well as being MD India, of a very fine agency, is a philosopher, raconteur, political analyst, economist, a film and music buff. A Gary Sobers, if you know what I mean."
After retirement, he moved to his hometown Chennai. Among other accolades that Ayer won, the most recent was the Hall of Fame by AAAI.

Ogilvy India and South Asia co-executive chairman and COO SN Rane said, "I will remember Ayer who started in Ogilvy as a copy person and reached a commanding height through his thorough professionalism, burning passion and doubtless dedication for the advertising profession and for Ogilvy India. He dominated the Indian advertising scene for over three decades and went on to become a legend in his lifetime. I had the privilege of working with him closely and the learning from him is an invaluable treasure."

Saddened by the news, WPP country head Ranjan Kapur comments, "Ayer‘s biggest strength was the ability to make every piece of work ‘word perfect‘. Despite not being a banker, he owned one of the sharpest financial minds that I have had the opportunity to work with. When he retired from Ogilvy, he left me an agency with an extremely healthy balance sheet which enabled me as his successor, to do many things that I was able to do. He was meticulous and tidy at work, a superb client servicing man and people within Ogilvy as well as outside were in awe of him. I was associated with him from 1996 until the day I retired. I gained a very healthy respect for him."

Ayer is survived by his wife, daughter and son. The funeral will be held tomorrow.

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