Ogilvy Mourns the Passing of Mani S. Ayer

MUMBAI, February 8, 2010 – It is with deep sadness and a profound sense of loss, that Ogilvy announces the passing away of Mr. Mani S. Ayer, former Managing Director of Ogilvy & Mather.  Ayer passed away after a very brief illness.

mani ayerAyer was born on September 5, 1935.  He joined Ogilvy (then S.H. Benson) in 1958, as a Copy Writer.  He spent 36 years in Ogilvy & Mather India, out of which two years were spent in Ogilvy Australia, prior to taking over the reins as Managing Director in 1973.  He was only 38 years when he took on the role of Managing Director, Ogilvy India, from predecessor Padubidri Sarma.  It is safe to say that Ayer was probably the youngest Indian MD of Ogilvy India, or for that matter, even perhaps the youngest MD across industry sectors at the time.

Disturbed by this news, Piyush Pandey, Executive Chairman & Creative Director, Ogilvy South Asia 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!"

Mani S Ayer is credited with laying the foundations of modern Ogilvy in India.  Ogilvy India has never looked back since the leadership of Mani Ayer.  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 Mani Ayer as, “the most outstanding individual in the Ogilvy network.”

He believed that if anyone was serious about a profession in Advertising, then they had to be good at writing, teaching and training.  He 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. 

The late Suresh Mullick described Mani Ayer thus: “Mani was, and always will be, a gifted all rounder.  As well as being Managing Director 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.”

In 1993 he retired as Managing Director of Ogilvy India.  He moved to Chennai post his retirement.  Among other accolades that Ayer won, the most recent was the Hall of Fame by AAAI.

Mr. S.N. Rane, Co-Executive Chairman & Chief Operating Officer - Ogilvy India & South Asia, said, "I will remember Mr. 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 of the death of one of the industry's most respected icons, Ranjan Kapur, Country Head - WPP looks back, "Mani 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 Ogilvy 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."

We salute you, Mr. Ayer.

Contact: Lorraine Martin
Date: February 08, 2010
Office: Mumbai