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Response India's Ram Ray left the world of advertising a better place

He was so knowledgeable about design that any astrologer could have predicted that one day there would be a Ray & Keshavan

Sumit Roy 

Ram Ray
Ram Ray

When I first saw Ram Ray, he was carrying a Kodak Carousel projector in a bag slung across his shoulder.

He emerged from the Brooke Bond lift on his way to meet D P Ghosh, the manager with whom I had just had a two-hour long progress report meeting. (Yes, one did have progress reports meetings in 1978.)

My equanimity had just been shattered, as two-hour meetings with D P Ghosh were wont to do. Short of physically tearing the artworks that I was supposed to have got approved, D P Ghosh had educated me on just how incompetent I was and why I should take lessons from a certain Ram Ray on how to run an account.

And there was the legend himself, about to walk into a meeting with the said D P Ghosh.

It was said that Ram Ray was the only agency man that D P Ghosh ever listened to. It actually had nothing to do with the Kodak Carousel he was carrying with him like it was a pocket dictionary. (Yes many things dwarfed themselves in the presence of Ram Ray.)

It had more to do with the fact that he knew more about every possible technical aspect of as well as every conceptual aspect of that there was to know at that time.

Quite often, he was ahead of his time. While everyone else was using portable chart holders for their presentations, he was using Kodak Carousel slides. While everyone else was stuck at Times Roman, he was thinking in Palatino. Or more likely, Albertus.

(Yes, I know. There was no Google in the late 1970s. A far better option was to ask Ram Ray.)

If you can imagine an account manager who knew more about design than a designer, more about copy crafting than a copywriter, more about account planning than an account planner, more about the history of than a historian — that would be Ram Ray.

He was so knowledgeable about design that any astrologer could have predicted that one day there would be a Ray & Keshavan.

Ram brooked no nonsense. And yet was the most generous-hearted person I’ve known. Once I had asked him if I may borrow the HTA projector as a back-up for an OBM presentation. He readily agreed, even though we were pitching for the same account.

We all thought he would inherit HTA from Subhas Ghosal. But when that did not happen, he went on to run the San Francisco office of JWT if I remember correctly.

When he came back, his response was to start Response. Clearly the leading agency in Kolkata for any brand that wanted to win over West Bengal.

He brought to Bengali advertising a sophistication that David Abbott would have been proud of.

Who is David Abbott? I hear you say. Well, you will just have to ask Wikipedia. Because, sadly, Ram Ray is no longer around.

Everyone in Calcutta should know about his concern for Calcutta. Yes, he’s left this city and the world of advertising a better place.

Thank you, Ram.

First Published: Wed, November 13 2019. 03:17 IST
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