Grant McCann Erickson (GME), Sri Lanka’s pioneering advertising agency, celebrated its 55th anniversary earlier this month. A power house today, the company has grown into a leading integrated agency network that covers the wide spectrum of marketing communications services.
“Exploring new ways of reaching our consumers has been the most exciting challenge for us over the years. From when the company first began consumers have evolved and staying relevant in their life has been a challenge for both brands and agencies. Life was relatively simple then with one radio station, a couple of newspaper groups, no television and no internet and mobile phones," Grant Group Chairperson Neela Marikkar said.
"Today it’s a jungle out there and reaching your consumer effectively is a challenge. But we have proved we have done that well staying on top of the game throughout our 55 years. Our services today have grown to include digital, brand experiential, out of home and retail and state-of-the-art audio visual production facilities. A literal one stop shop,” Marikkar added.
Another unique aspect of the agency has been their enduring relationships with their clients. On their 55th anniversary, the management of Grant McCann decided what better way to celebrate this milestone than to honour their oldest client, Singer Sri Lanka – a partnership that has spanned 54 of the 55 years of the company.
Sharing a piece of cake, Singer Chairman Hemaka Amarasuriya and Marikkar reminisced about the five-decade journey both organisations have taken to reach the top of their league and continue to stay there.
‘Singer, Trusted Excellence,’ a line that stays true to the brand even today, was developed by the agency. That line is embedded in every consumer’s mind and Singer has continued to live up to that brand promise across its wide product portfolio. Today Singer Sri Lanka has been recognised as the People’s Brand of the Year at the SLIM Nielsen People’s Awards for six consecutive years, thus undeniably creating an indelible mark in the retail industry. The company has also been on LMD’s Top 50 since the initiation of the list.
Along with Singer, Grant McCann client base spans across a range of industries including banking and finance, hospitality, telecommunications, FMCGs, and IT. Whether it was changing the way Lankans flew by rebranding and re-launching Sri Lankan in 1999 and executing award winning campaigns such as ‘Home away from home’ – the recipient of a gold award in marketing at the PATA (Pacific Asia Travel Association) Awards that helped convey the warmth of Sri Lankan hospitality to the world – or introducing the irreplaceable green stripes to Elephant House in 1963, or the unforgettable line ‘On your way home’ for Cargills Food City and the award winning child immunisation campaign ‘Singithi’ for Unicef , GME has maintained its commitment to long-lasting relationships and outstanding communications.
The company’s other long-term clients include Unilever Sri Lanka – for over a quarter of a century, the country’s bank of firsts Sampath Bank for over 15 years, and Ceylinco for nearly a decade.
“The ethos of our company is to maintain long-term relationships with our clients, many of which have lasted several decades. Singer has been our client since the very beginning and our relationship has lasted over two generations,” said Marikkar. “This was a relationship that was started by my father, Reggie Candappa, and to this day, we have remained friends as much as business partners.”
Apart from long-standing clients, GME has a number of long enduring, committed individuals as well.
The homegrown stars at GME includes Laila Gunesekere – one of the most recognised professionals in the industry who has been with the company for nearly 30 years, moving from client-servicing to creative and finally moving up to Vice President of the Group a few years ago; Romesh Fernando, the financial wiz for the past 24 years, and Russell Miranda – GME’s Executive Creative Director who has spearheaded many of the company’s award winning campaigns over the past 20 years.
“We have some amazing talent who have become synonymous with this company. It is the determination and dedication of these people that has brought us to the helm of the industry where we have consistently been winning awards and accolades, locally and internationally,” said Marikkar.
Renowned for not just being the first agency in Sri Lanka, but also for its position as a market leader in brand building, the company, which was founded by the Godfather of Advertising Deshabandu Reggie Candappa in 1958, has grown into a power house of ideas providing strong media neutral strategies to their wide client base.
With the focus on a fast-paced future which embraces technology and new media like digital and the mobile explosion, the company is excited at what the future holds and is gearing themselves and the entire operations to face the challenges in the next few years.