India

Ranjan Kapur 

  • Country Manager, WPP (Advertising)
Born Lahore, India, 1942. MA English, St. Stephens College, Delhi University (1964).
“I think the uniqueness of India lies in its diversity … But then we don’t look at it [this diversity] as a barrier. We see that as an opportunity…”

Video Clips

Kapur explains that his success in part derives from the opening up of the Indian market after 1991-- when the advertising industry grew by 25-30%, according to Kapur-- and from his experience in Singapore.

Kapur describes his human resources philosophy: empowering employees (which he describes as "letting the tiger out of the cage"), using a lean staff to produce more, and giving workers a clear goal and road map to get there.

Kapur attributes India's strength to its diversity: it is a multicultural, multilingual society that he likens to New York, except more so.

Kapur advises business leaders to focus on developing the characters and values of their brands in their home markets before globalizing.

Kapur challenges the suggestion that only small agencies can be creative, and encourages big businesses to promote creativity.

 Full-length video (accessible to holders of a valid Harvard ID)

Transcript

How does a brand become an icon and who are the people behind this magic? This interview concerns one of these magicians – Ranjan Kapur, the man who spent fifty years in the advertising industry and led one of the largest advertising agencies, Ogilvy and Mather, in India. Kapur describes his personal journey over these decades and highlights the dramatic changes in the advertising industry with the opening of Indian economy in the 1990s and the rise of digital technology. Kapur shares his personal experiences of working in three different countries - India, Singapore and the United States, his successes and failures, his experience of turning around a company, his views on global branding, and his reflection on work-life balance.

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Resources

  • WPP--Integrating Icons to Leverage Knowledge [HBS case]
  • "The High-Growth Areas Are in Non-advertising: Ranjan Kapur” (Interview with Country Manager, WPP and Chairman, Bates India), Business Standard, April 2, 2012
  • "Will Bates India be Ranjan Kapur's Elusive Perfect Snowball?” The Economic Times, March 28, 2012
  • “'Advertisement Agencies Should Stop Devaluing Their Services,' Q&A: RANJAN KAPUR, country manager (India), WPP," Business Standard, July 30, 2008
  • "Kapur Assigned to Country Manager Role for WPP India,” Media, March 26, 2004
  • "O&M India Unveils Strategy Post-Kapur Retirement,” Media, July 11, 2003
  • "Ranjan Kapur: Life after Ogilvy,” Economic Times, November 19, 2003
  • “Ranjan Kapur Striving to Make O&M India a Worldwide Player,” Advertising Age, February 21, 1994
  • Video file of this interview available at Baker Library Historical Collections, histcollref+hbs.edu. Harvard ID holders can access the full-length video above.

  • Interview citation: "Interview with Ranjan Kapur, interviewed by Sunil Gupta, August 5, 2015, Creating Emerging Markets Project, Baker Library Historical Collections, Harvard Business School, http://www.hbs.edu/businesshistory/emerging-markets/."