By Cassandra Mascarenhas
Forging the way ahead for all advertising professionals in Sri Lanka, one of the key players in the country’s advertising industry, the founder and Managing Director of Leo Burnett Solutions Inc. in Colombo, Ranil de Silva, became the first-ever Sri Lankan to be recognised by an international entity and be awarded the prestigious Medal for Merit by the International Advertising Association (IAA).
One of the most exclusive global advertising awards, the Medal for Merit was established in 1960 and in order to retain its fundamental features and prestige, it is awarded every two years to just five professionals handpicked from the 56 chapters of the IAA around the world.
With headquarters in New York, the Association is a global partnership of marketing communications professionals and comprises of marketers, media and advertising professionals.
The current process of the selection of recipients for the award is to select the worthy recipients through a consultative process, which is later endorsed by the Executive Committee of the IAA and the IAA World Service Centre.
Speaking at a felicitation held in de Silva’s honour at the Hilton yesterday, CEO of JWT and the Vice President of the IAA Thayalan Bartlet praised de Silva’s achievement.
“Ranil dedicated himself during his tenure as the President of the IAA Sri Lanka Chapter to give it a fresh new identity and purpose. The industry as a whole benefited from this resurgence and had a platform to address industry issues, improve skills development and create networking opportunities. IAA Global has aptly credited Ranil with this recognition and considering that only five awards are made every two years this is a rare honour for an individual from Sri Lanka”, he said.
With a marked presence in the country’s advertising industry since the year 1981, de Silva has always been a prominent figure in the growth of the industry and not only commenced operations of Leo Burnett Solutions in Sri Lanka, but also revived the Sri Lankan chapter of the IAA. He served as President of association for two years as well as serving on the Worldwide Board of Directors of the IAA.
One of his most exemplary achievements is Leo Hope, an initiative which he spearheaded in response to the tsunami in 2004. Leo Hope is now a regional initiative of the network. De Silva led his team to resurrect an entire village comprising of 71 families, giving them back their homes and lives.
“It is the first time ever that someone has recognised my commitment and passion for the profession. I have given my best towards the industry because I love the profession and the advertising business. I am indeed moved to think that the IAA after so many years still remembered me and the role I played during my tenure,” said de Silva, after accepting the award from the current President of the IAA Sri Lanka Chapter Renuka Marshall in front of a large crowd of advertising professionals present at the event to celebrate the momentous occasion.