Iconic Ads: Raymond – The Complete Man

raymond logo

‘The Complete Man’ was a metrosexual, caring, loving, family man, who was a far cry from the way males were represented in the 70s & 80s.

Raymond’s was the most prestigious and largest account for a small and successful agency called Nexus Equity.

In 1995, Nexus Equity came to know that Raymond’s (during that period, the brand was called Raymond’s, but several years later, changed to Raymond) was calling for a pitch. Raymond’s had asked four agencies—a mix of big, medium, and small ones, like Lintas, Frank Simoes, and others—to pitch.

The Nexus Equity team was excited and decided to give it a shot.

They got a written brief, a short one-pager which stated that Raymond’s was possibly the best-known fabric brand in the country and was an icon of luxury, good living, high fashion and style. The task of the advertising agency was to keep the brand right at the top in terms of perception in the face of a lot of new national and possibly international entrants into the market.

While brainstorming, the Nexus Equity team decided to do something audacious.

The team at Nexus Equity was small but formidable. Rajiv Agarwal was the MD, M. Raghunath, the director handling client servicing, and then 2 legends, Arun Kale and Rajan Nair, were responsible for all things creative. The responsibility of handling Raymond’s from a client service perspective fell on Rajiv.

So Rajiv, Arun, and Rajan went for the face-to-face briefing with Vijaypat Singhania, the chairman of Raymond’s.

They met at JK House in Warden Road, Mumbai. Vijaypat was a classy man and a phenomenal human being. He was the chairman of the Royal Western India Turf Club; he owned 12 racehorses; he held the Guinness World record for the highest height in a hot air balloon at the time; he flew a microlite around the world; he had 3,00,000 transparencies as an avid photographer; a large collection of clocks and watches; the largest jade collection; and an orchid collection on his terrace that he tended himself. At parties, he was always the centre of attention.

Vijaypat was the decision-maker and took the final call on which agency would work with Raymond’s. He reiterated that the task of any advertising agency, including Nexus Equity, was to keep Raymond right at the top. He also mentioned that he was happy with Frank Simoes but was now looking around only because he wanted to see how fast Raymond could grow – would Frank Simoes Advertising be able to keep up. He was not even sure if the account would leave Frank Simoes, but he said Nexus Equity could take a chance if interested, to which they replied in the affirmative.

The creative team of Arun and Rajan got down to work. They and a few others brainstormed and then decided that they had to do something completely different because of the impending international competition, especially from European brands.

An open brief can be both good and bad. The Nexus Equity team was a bit apprehensive because with an open brief you can never be sure if what you’re doing is right or wrong. In fact, Raghu used to say, “Give me the freedom of a tight brief!”

Raymond’s had sent a lot of material, like old advertisements, notes, press releases, etc. The Nexus Equity team spent nights at the office going through it.

The slogan at that time was “The Guide to the Well-Dressed Male.” All the advertising showed good-looking males with glamorous women and with all the symbols of success like fast cars, etc. All this had undoubtedly helped the brand.

The team decided that they had the freedom to do audacious work, because Raymond’s was at the top, on a pedestal, as it were. They decided not to follow any of the old standards. On the contrary, they wanted to set new rules now. They targeted the cream of society because they believed that’s how new ideas got filtered down – from top to bottom.

The core thought was “People Who Count.” Based on this thought, sprung an idea. There would be famous people who would associate with Raymond’s. For example, MF Hussain would do a painting on ‘Flight’, Pandit Ravi Shankar would create a small anthem on ‘Achievement’, Pillu Pochkhanawala would do a sculpture on ‘Faith’ etc. And all it would say is “Commissioned by Raymond” or words to that effect.

They made mock-ups of these ideas and went for the presentation.

Vijaypat loved it. But his team had a huge problem with implementation. They emphasised that many of the famous people were eccentric, had big egos, were costly, etc. They were also worried about how to publicise this, and there was a strong possibility that budgets could go awry.

Vijaypat agreed with his people and asked the Nexus Equity team how they would solve it. The team told him bluntly that they never expected the campaign to go through. It was to show their capabilities to him, and they did not expect to implement this at all. But if Vijaypat thought there was a capability to think differently and take Raymond’s to new heights, then Nexus Equity was the agency for the brand.

He loved the audaciousness, as he himself was an audacious man. He asked Nexus Equity to come up with an implementable campaign.

The team decided to get to work on a new campaign. Arun and Rajan were throwing ideas back and forth. At one point, Rajan remembered how when he was getting married, he had wanted to buy Raymond’s fabric for his suit – but he couldn’t afford it. So he bought Graviera instead. While stitching the suit, the tailor cut off the brand name (which is usually printed repeatedly on the edge of the suiting material), much to Rajan’s dismay.

Rajan felt, “Now only I know that I am wearing Graviera!”

And now, while working on Raymond’s, it dawned on him that this is what would happen with Raymond’s too. Raymond’s is not only an expensive fabric but prestigious too, and when the tailor cuts off the brand name, how does anyone know someone is wearing Raymond’s? Only the person who is wearing it knows it!

So they concluded that there was no need to target people who did not wear Raymond and instead communicate that when you wear Raymond’s, you feel really good about yourself. But to deserve to wear Raymond’s, you have to be above the ‘ordinary’.

They were clear that, unlike Raymond’s past advertising, the Raymond’s man would not be able to show off such possessions and symbols like fancy sports cars, pretty girls, etc. He has to feel happy and superior because he feels worthy of it-he has the traits and characteristics of a good, in fact, great, human being.

So they then listed out the qualities of a good human being. You can aspire to be a Geet Sethi or Sunil Gavaskar or a Sachin Tendulkar, but 99% of the people cannot be like them; it’s not practical. But it’s possible for that person to be a fantastic father, husband, friend…

They made a list of 16 or so qualities – qualities that are worth cultivating in a person. So, coining the slogan became pretty easy. It almost formed itself—The Complete Man.

Then Rajan and Arun created a campaign of 6 ads with mockup pictures; Rajan wrote the copy and Arun did the art direction.

But 2 to 3 days before the presentation, Rajiv started getting the jitters. He felt the campaign would not work. His argument was that there was no garment, no proper ‘model’, and worse, the advertisement talked about bringing up children, faith, and friendship, etc. “How is that in any way related to selling fabric?” When Raghu saw it (he had not been involved in the development of the campaign), and when he saw the ads, he did not want to be remotely connected to the campaign. He felt this was not advertising, and was a waste of the clients’ money.

But Arun and Rajan dug their heels in. When Nexus and Equity had merged, they had mutually decided that Rajiv and Raghu would make the final call on client servicing and account management, while Arun and Rajan would make the final call on creative.

Arun and Rajan did not budge, and Rajiv had no choice but to side with them. But on Rajiv’s request, Arun and Rajan prepared 2 other ‘safe’ campaigns. Rajiv said he would use it strategically. So they did a typical campaign, with the usual race cars, glamorous girls, etc.

They then went for the presentation to Vijaypat Singhania. There were around 12 people, which included his son, product and marketing managers.

The safe campaigns were shown first. There were some mumblings. Then Vijaypat said, “Bas itna hi?” This is a disappointment to him after the initial presentation. “This is not what I was expecting!”

The Nexus Equity team replied, “We know that, but we have another campaign which we think is a high-risk campaign, but we think it will skyrocket Raymond to the next level.” Vijaypat replied, “Haan dikhao bhai, dikhao!

And they then presented “The Complete Man” Campaign.

After the presentation, there was complete silence, and when Vijaypat asked his team for their opinion, there was not a murmur.

To everyone’s delight, then Vijaypat said, “That’s the campaign I want to put my brand name on!”

The rest is history.

The music came, thanks to Subir and Namita of White Light Moving Picture Company. It was a piece by Schumann. The photography was by the late Prabuddha Dasgupta in Ooty and Goa.



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