afaqs! news bureau

Obituary: J Mani

An advertising veteran, Mani had co-founded the sonic branding agency BrandMusiq, after spending two decades in advertising.

J Mani, a seasoned advertising professional and co-founder of sonic branding agency BrandMusiq, is no more. He passed away on October 10 from a cardiac arrest. Mani, 57, is survived by his wife and son.

Obituary: J Mani
Friends and colleagues remember him as a fine gentleman, one who always upheld his values and had a penchant for learning as well as teaching. A master in financial management from Mumbai University, Mani started his career with Berger Paints in the sales department. After serving the organisation for five years, he entered the world of advertising with a stint in Multimedia Aquarius. His tenure there lasted for about seven years. He then moved to Mudra and served the agency for five years, before moving to Bates.

His next destination was DDB Mudra Group. It was after this stint that he launched the sonic-based branding company, called BrandMusiq, along with Rajeev Raja, then a creative consultant with DDB Mudra Group. The company creates branding which is based on a combination of audio and music (also known as soundscape) and defines a brand's personality.

Obituary: J Mani

For Raja, who had known him for 14 years, Mani was not just a friend, philosopher and guide, but also an elder brother. "We met in 2001, at Bates. I was creative director then and he was branch head; we hit it off immediately owing to our common passion for brands and music. We created some memorable campaigns like Tata Salt 'Desh ka Namak', Tata AIG and KBC 'Nau baj gaya kya', among several others. We used to have music sessions in our office, with wine and cheese evenings with clients and well-wishers. We once called a mathematician from Tata Institute of Fundamental Research to talk about 'creativity as numbers'. The whole process of music as creativity started back then," he recalls.

They worked together at DDB Mudra too, before Mani decided "it is time to do something different and not open just another agency," Raja says, talking about how BrandMusiq was born.

He intends to further build on the profound base that Mani created for the company. "It's almost like he laid the ground and has asked me to take over. It is heart-breaking, and I'm still struggling to cope with it. There's not been a single day when we haven't spoken. Now, I just have to make him proud," he adds.

Madhukar Kamath, group CEO and MD, DDB Mudra Group, who has worked with Mani, remembers him as an excellent family man and a great team player.

"Mani was a very good soul," he says, adding, "He was an advertising professional who was a passionate student of brand building and an excellent teacher too. He believed in constant learning and, at the same time, he did a wonderful job in all the teaching stints. Over the last two decades, I had the privilege of three work stints with him, first in the 90s at Mudra Mumbai, then at Bates in 2000 and DDB Mudra."

While the agency folk spoke highly of Mani's commitment and sincerity towards brand building, we learnt that he has also been an excellent client to work with, before he started his advertising stint.

Dubbing him as a thorough gentleman, Shavon Barua, managing partner, PHD Mumbai, informs that she first met Mani when she was the Bombay head for Euro RSCG (now Havas Worldwide). Mani was then heading marketing and communication for Nirmal Lifestyle, and was one of the clients her agency worked with.

"I knew him in the capacity of a client, and he was also a colleague of my husband. In our business, it has become increasingly difficult for people to be gentlemanly. Mani was one of those rare people, a thorough gentleman. Interacting with him was always very nice. He was a fair person and he never forced his opinions on others. A calm soul, he was quite helpful," she recalls.