Ranjan Kapur: 1942-2018

29 Jan,2018


Ranjan Kapur, WPP India Chairman, former Ogilvy India CEO, a mentor to many young entrerpreneurs and one of the Indian advertising industry’s leading lights, passed away in Mumbai on Saturday, January 27. He died due to a heart attack. He was 75 and survived by his wife and daughter.

Born in Lahore in pre-Partition India in 1942, Kapur had did an MA in English from St Stephen’s College, Delhi in 1964.He joined Citibank, but the lure of the creative business got him to Ogilvy in the ‘60s. He moved to head Ogilvy India in 1994, and he helped catapult the agency to the top. There have been many tributes paid to him on the social media, some of which we have compiled in this report.


Bhaskar Das

Dr Bhaskar Das: An Advertising Man who was also an officer and gentleman 

I vividly recall that afternoon on January 14 at 1.30pm. When the door opened at 281 B Twin Towers at Prabhadevi, two sunny side up faces–Jimi and Ranjan embraced me and my wife at their annual new year brunch. At their artistically designed flat, every corner of the room was abuzz with animated conversations. Ranjan and Jimi always appeared to me as made for each other-attended to each and every guest with warmth and smile. At that moment, I couldn’t visualise that I would meet Ranjan for the last time.

Though I never worked directly with Ranjan, I heard a lot of positive marketlore about his aggression, combativeness in the market and business per se,  for his agency and the confidence that he enjoyed of the WPP Group supremo. My first encounter with him happened way back in 1996 when he was occupying the corner office of O&M, Bombay. That one meeting revealed the Man –statesmanly demeanour, impeccably courteous, clarity of vision both for his agency business and the Industry , and the foresight about the forces that would impact advertising landscape including digital — a rare skill amongst his contemporary leaders.

Ranjan straddled the Indian advertising and marketing like the Collosusof Rhodes for more than four decades. He motivated, mentored, coached many stalwarts of advertising world of today. Everyone agrees that his human qualities are multifaceted–aggression (when it comes to business), modesty, ability to pun, storytelling, social sector activism, a painter and sculptor (this latent talent found expression during later stage of his life).

Ranjan has touched so many lives and left an indelible impression for ever. The invitees on January 14 could never imagine that destiny had arranged for sumptuous farewell party from him to the industry leaders. What a way to say goodbye, Sir!

Individuals like RanjanKapurare a rare specimen of human beings. They are not made anymore. We shall miss you Sir. Rest well and peacefully.

Dr Bhaskar Das is Executive President, DainikBhaskar Group


Ajay Kakar

Ajay Kakar: End of an era

I believe that the fame and love that a person attracts should not be gauged by the attention he gets during his holding a high office. But thereafter. And what can be a better tribute, than the love a person attracts, when he is no more.

Today, as I walked out of the cremation grounds where the life and journey of RanjanKapur came to an end, I marvelled at the multitude of people who came to bid him adieu. People from all walks of life, all ages and from the world of Advertising and beyond. All those whose life Ranjan touched and enriched.

Ranjan had retired as the MD of Ogilvy, a decade and more, ago. And when a typical person’s corporate life comes to an end, Ranjan was invited and requested to continue to mentor the industry. As Country Head and then Chairman of WPP. And steward to ISMI WPP Institutes. And remained on the board of many companies. Client companies. Clients who loved, respected and valued his wisdom. So much. How many from today’s generation can boast such client respect!

Since yesterday when the sad news of his demise spread, Facebook is flooded with love and rich adjectives that Ranjan so richly deserves.

A boss. A mentor. A guide. A gentleman. The last of Mohicans. A rare all-rounder, unheard of in today’s days. He could speak on any brand, with knowledge and passion. His understanding of business and brands was unparalleled. His sensitivity to creative, too. No surprise then that at Ogilvy he created a “3 legged stool” with Piyush and Rane. They thought and worked like one. A key reason for the agency’s success – with brands and the agency’s flattering financials.

With the passing away, the world of advertising and brands sees the end of an era.

A man with interests and hobbies beyond brands and work. He used to pen portraits in seconds. Loved sculpting and naming his creations. Enjoyed making perfumes.

He lived life king size. Yet remember envying the blood red Merc coupe he bought and drove, as he ended his corporate life.

His birthday wishes coming, every year. Unfailingly. From the days when there was no mobile diary or Fb to remind you.

I was blessed to work for and with him. He held my hand and supported me set up and grow a financial practice for Ogilvy. And then also entrusted me as country head of Ogilvy PR. Had me on the executive committee of the agency.

So having seen him up close, I could go on and on. Each of us has such fond memories and stories that any one or two will do injustice to the man and legend.

Ajay Kakar is CMOAditya Birla Capital


Pratap Bose

Pratap Bose: Ranjan was one of the finest brains on technology

I heard the news on the Ogilvy group… it was a very sad day. Ranjan was my finest boss ever. I owe everything to him. He was my go-to man. And in a sense a godfather. I met him just a month ago. I still remember when I left Ogilvy, he said I was stupid to join another agency and that I should turn an entrepreneur. He even drew a business plan across the table!


He was an Epic Man. A risk-taker, who would think forward in everything. Even at his age, he was one of the finest brains on technology.


I joined Ogilvy in 1993 and got to know him when he came to India in 1994. The interaction was very regular until he retired, but even later, he was always around me.


Sir Martin Sorrell trusted him immensely, and in fact I met the WPP chief through Ranjan a few times.  His passing is a great loss for the industry, and for me personally.


Pratap Bose is Chairman and MD, The Social Street












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