‘One of India’s finest creatives’ Rajiv Rao leaves Ogilvy after 18 years

One of India’s biggest creative figures has decided to call time on the advertising industry in pursuit of a film career after nearly 20 years.

Rajiv Rao

Ogilvy & Mather India’s national creative director Rajiv Rao has announced his intention to leave the agency to become a film maker.

Renowned for his campaigns for Vodafone, including ‘ZooZoo’ and the ‘Pug’ ads,  Rao has worked for Ogilvy since 1999 when he joined with his creative partner, the late V. Mahesh.

Along with Mahesh, he led Ogilvy Bangalore from 2003 to 2006. In 2009 Rao and Abhijit Avasthi took on the role of national creative directors. Since 2015, he has handled the role alone.

He will remain in the creative leader role until his replacement Sonal Dabral formally takes over as chief creative officer within the next few months. The agency did not give a specific day of when the official transition would take place.

In a statement issued by the agency, the executive chairman and creative director Piyush Pandey described Rao as “one of the finest creative people and the gentlest giant I have met in my life.”

Piyush Pandey with Rajiv

He said: “It has been Rajiv’s dream to make films for the last four years. I have nothing but a deep sense of gratitude to Rajiv, that he respected my request to stay on to help make a better and stronger Ogilvy.  There are not too many in this business who make a sacrifice of this magnitude.

In 2002, I had the joy of partnering him as a copywriter to create the legendary ‘Second hand smoke kills’ campaign for Cancer Patients Aid Association. This campaign won India’s first double Gold at Cannes.

“Whenever the Orange/Hutch/Vodafone history is written, Rajiv Rao’s name will feature in golden letters. Every piece of work on these brands has Rajiv’s personal stamp on it.”

“Loved and admired by one and all in the industry, nationally and internationally, Rajiv is one of the finest creative people and the gentlest giant I have met in my life. I am sure Rajiv will be no less a film maker than the creative leader he has been. We will stay connected in more ways than one.”


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