agency Mindshare has appointed Ravi Rao as partner, client leadership, for Unilever's operations in South Asia. Rao brings along a wealth of diverse experience accumulated over 20 years. Earlier, he was regional executive director, group development, Omnicom Media Group in the UAE.
Rao started his career with Chaitra Leo Burnett (now Leo Burnett) in 1988 and after three years, moved on to Lintas for a couple of years. He also worked with Mindshare in the Middle East. Subsequently, he had a long stint with Omnicom, which lasted for nearly 12 years. He has worked with renowned brands such as Citibank, PepsiCo, P&G, Unilever and Kellogs.
"South Asia is now a hotbed for media related activities, so after a long stint in the Middle East, getting back home and joining the new revolution is too good an opportunity to resist," says Ravi Rao. He says that he is happy to get back with Mindshare and hopes that with Unilever being in multiple categories, it will be a refreshing challenge to provide new impetus in a growing market.
Rao's association with big brands has helped him gain experience across a large spectrum. "When PepsiCo was my client, it became a strong player in the Middle East," says Rao, adding that he was also involved with the launch of Dubai Holdings. "Today, it is one of the largest advertisers in the Middle East," informs Rao.
While handling the accounts of Unilever and P&G, he gained an exposure in the Middle East and the North African markets. "The challenges in these markets are tremendous," says Rao, "as these 13-14 countries had different brand behaviour. Hence, catering to them provides you with a varied range of opportunities and challenges."
He is relishing the challenge which South Asia has to offer and hopes to boost Unilever's market under his direction. Commenting on this appointment, R Gowthaman, leader, Mindshare South Asia says that he is extremely thrilled to have Rao on board to lead the Unilever operation and as a key member of the client leadership team. He says that he looks forward to Rao playing a much larger role in Mindshare to help it become the clients' lead business partner.
Mindshare has also roped in Ajit Gurnani to lead the newly formed AOR (agency of record) to service the Aditya Birla Group business. Over the past two months, he has been involved in setting up the processes and structures for this unit.
Earlier, Gurnani was marketing head, Al Ain National Juice and Refreshments Co., Sharjah. Gurnani has more than 15 years of experience in the media and marketing industries across multiple categories. He has played the roles of both the client and the agency.
Mindshare's client leadership structure is enhanced with Chanchal Chakrabarti, who will lead the PepsiCo business based in Delhi. He will also be responsible for all Mindshare clients, excluding Unilever, in Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh. In his stint at the helm of MindShare Malaysia, he led the agency to three consecutive wins in the Malaysian Media Awards, winning the Agency of the Year Awards for 2006, 2007 and 2008, and also the Grand Prix in 2008.