MEDIA: HEADLINER - MindShare’s smooth operator hopes to charm future clients - Kevin Razvi lives up to his suave and sophisticated persona, Lucy Hone writes

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 accurate.

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

JWT stereotype.

’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

the remark.

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.


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


Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus