When Kevin Razvi walks into the room, I immediately regret being
female. Being male would make it a lot easier to remain indifferent to
his dark, suave looks. I was warned. Descriptions such as ’incredibly
impressive’, ’quite sexy’ and ’charming and likeable’ are unnervingly
He’s certainly a polished act.
Direct, measured and intelligent - Razvi’s a man who regards his private
life as ’absolutely sacrosanct’. And as the new deputy managing director
of MindShare, he’s very successful at just 33.
Apparently it was always destined to be that way.
GMTV’s sales and marketing director, Clive Crouch, distinctly remembers
his first encounter with Razvi, back in 1992, when he was doing the
agency rounds prior to the launch of GMTV. He recalls: ’There was one
very intuitive person in the audience who kept asking me questions.
Eventually I had to stop the presentation to ask him to identify
Crouch was sufficiently impressed by his subsequent dealings with Razvi
to recommend him as Maureen Duffy’s successor, as assistant media
director on the Kellogg’s account, when she left J. Walter Thompson in
1995. At JWT, not known for its egalitarian recruiting ethos back then,
Razvi stood out like a sore thumb.
As the son of a high-ranking officer - half Pakistani and half Persian,
with a half Irish, half Canadian mother - Razvi hardly conformed to the
’Maureen was a hard act to follow,’ Crouch says, ’but Kevin was very
conscious that he didn’t want to be cloned by JWT; he managed to replace
Maureen and bring more to the table.’
He saw his recruitment as an opportunity to bring some much-needed
innovation to Kellogg’s strategy.
’I’m really proud of what we’ve achieved on Kellogg’s. Apart from seeing
off Carat twice in that three-year period, we’ve made some
ground-breaking moves,’ he says, with a distant South London clip.
Most notable of these came in 1997 when Kellogg’s Cornflakes sponsored
the Russ and Jono Breakfast Show on Virgin Radio, a deal reported to be
worth pounds 4 million. Aside from the sheer size of the contract,
heralded as the biggest radio sponsorship to date, Razvi’s achievement
lay in securing a partnership between two such disparate companies.
John Pearson, chief executive of Virgin Radio, remembers him as ’neither
the quiet and stealthy, nor loud and shouting type of negotiator; it was
his subtle intelligence that made him so good’.
Razvi says he gets his eye for innovation from Paul Woolmington, his
managing director at 20:20 - the joint media venture between Delaney
Fletcher Bozell and CIA (now BJK&E) - where he worked for three years
before joining JWT.
Woolmington, now worldwide president of Young & Rubicam’s The Media
Edge, describes him as a pragmatist. ’He’s a good person to have around,
very self-motivated with an incredible quiet confidence about him. He’s
not just a strategy guru, he’s very capable of doing tough negotiations
As a pragmatist and a self-confessed realist, he has one major
He’s a Wimbledon fan, which he describes as ’an unnatural
’I’m normally very good at rationalising, but there’s no way I can
rationalise my love for Wimbledon,’ he acknowledges.
More revealing still is his admission that the allegiance was formed as
an 11-year-old school boy, attracted to the Dons because no-one else
supported them. ’I’m always prepared to do something different in order
to stand out,’ he explains, immediately apologising for the smugness of
His search for something out of the ordinary has recently taken him to
Vietnam for a month - a sabbatical after ten years in the business. Only
one month? ’Well, most people take six months, but I got mine down to
four weeks; it’s all part of negotiating down.’
Actually, he admits, it was rather poor timing as he left soon after
Simon Rees finally took up his post as MindShare’s managing director,
something he describes as ’one of the worst pieces of timing in my
Rumour has it, though, that his promotion has been a done deal for some
time. As one colleague said: ’I’d have thought it would have taken five
minutes for Simon to make up his mind that Kevin was the man for the
So just how far does Razvi plan to go? ’If I didn’t want to be running a
large media company in the next few years, I shouldn’t be doing the job
I am now. And I won’t be happy until the presence of MindShare on a
pitch-list makes our competitors feel that it’s not even worth turning
up for the pitch.’ Well, we’ll see.
THE RAZVI FILE
Rover Group, graduate scheme
Media Business Group, media executive
20:20 Media, deputy managing director
JWT, assistant media director (Kellogg’s)
MindShare, managing partner
MindShare, deputy managing director