Ranil de Silva wins IAA Global Medal of Merit
Posted on September 29th, 2010

Arc Worldwide Sri Lanka; a part of Leo Burnett Solutions Inc.  

Colombo: Wednesday, 29th September, 2010

The International Advertising Association (IAA) headquartered in New York with 56 chapters around the world, presented its highest accolade for outstanding service to the industry- The Global Medal of Merit, to Sri Lankan advertising icon Ranil de Silva at the World Congress in Moscow.

Established in the 1960s, the Medal for Merit has been granted to only a select few professionals every two years, thus making this honour a noteworthy and fitting tribute to the contribution made by Ranil de Silva not only to the advertising industry in Sri Lanka, but also to the IAA as a whole. Alan Rutherford – IAA Chairman and World President, presented this year’s medals at the Kremlin Palace Congress Centre in Moscow during the IAA 2010 World Congress. Ms. Lilamani Dias Benson – Chief Executive Officer, Lowe LDB, accepted this award on behalf of Ranil de Silva.

The selection of recipients in the past has been the prerogative of the World President. However, the current practice 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 Center. To retain the Medal of Merit’s intrinsic value and exclusivity, the number awarded on each occasion is limited to a maximum of five. With this honour, Ranil de Silva joins the ranks of renowned luminaries in the industry such as Khamis Al Muqla- President of Gulf Marcom, Diane Slade “”…” Director, Edith Cowan University Australia and Takayuki Shimizu “”…” Executive Director, Dentsu Inc., Japan. He also shares this mantle with fellow Burnetter Carla Michelotti – Global Chief Legal, Government, Corporate Affairs Officer of Leo Burnett Worldwide.

Ranil de Silva has been in advertising since 1981 and has grown in the industry through the decades. He started his career at JWT Colombo as its first Sri Lankan employee and rose to the position of International Vice-President. He also had the honour of being selected to serve in the JWT network outside of Sri Lanka- a first for the country. Having started Leo Burnett in Colombo 11 years ago without a client and even an office, he has taken the Colombo office of the leading global network of Leo Burnett Worldwide to great heights achieving the No.1 slot for the agency creatively and bringing global recognition to Sri Lanka by winning the first ever metal for the country at an International Awards Festival. His passion and commitment for the industry was further endorsed by the Cannes Lions, who appointed him as their representative in Sri Lanka, a role he has fulfilled with tireless dedication. In this capacity he has given Sri Lanka’s advertising industry the opportunity to be exposed to the best of the world in advertising through numerous exhibitions and forums of Cannes Lions winners. He has also provided 20 Sri Lankan professionals the opportunity to participate in the programmes conducted by the organizers of the Cannes Lions.

He revived the IAA Sri Lanka Chapter and later assumed the mantle of President in 2005 and served two terms in this capacity. He also served on the Worldwide Board of Directors of the IAA. During his tenure he gave the IAA a voice and led several initiatives to give the marketing communications fraternity a rightful place in the business world. He led a successful lobby against the levies imposed on the advertising industry. He also initiated the IAA leadership forum which brought to Sri Lanka leading personalities to facilitate a dialogue between the CEOs from the industry. The Mantra series in advertising for young professionals is yet another initiative which was spearheaded by him. What was most noteworthy was that, during his term, he helped the IAA Sri Lanka chapter to swell its membership threefold.

The IAA is a global partnership of marketing communications professionals which comprises marketers, media and advertising professionals. This makes the IAA a unique tripartite partnership which is well poised to stimulate and support the development, growth and progress of the industry. The international network of the IAA makes it an even stronger force which is supported by a global body committed to supporting the industry.

One of his most exemplary achievements is most definitely Leo Hope, an initiative which he spearheaded in response to the tsunami in 2004. Leo Hope is now a regional initiative of the network. Ranil led his team to resurrect an entire village comprising of 71 families giving them back their homes and their lives, bringing laughter back into the hamlet of Hiddoruwa.

A felicitation in Ranil de Silva’s honour at which Sri Lanka’s advertising, media and marketing community were present was recently held at the Hilton Colombo. On this occasion, Ms. Lilamani Dias Benson stated “I have known Ranil de Silva for nearly 3 decades, and it was with great pleasure that I collected this award on his behalf when I attended the IAA World Conference. I have watched him grow from an enthusiastic young executive to one of Sri Lanka’s most renowned advertising personalities. This medal is a fitting mark of respect to a person who has worked so hard for this industry.”

Mr. Thayalan Bartlet – CEO, JWT and Vice President, IAA, who served as Secretary of the Chapter during the tenure of Ranil De Silva added that “Ranil dedicated himself during his tenure as 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 5 such awards are made every two years this is a rare honour for an individual from Sri Lanka.”

Ms. Renuka Marshall – President of IAA Sri Lanka Chapter, also spoke of the occasion and said “The Global Medal of Merit is one of the highest honours awarded by the IAA. As President of the IAA Sri Lanka Chapter, I was both heartened and excited at the IAA’s decision to bestow this accolade upon a member and past President of the Sri Lanka Chapter. We believe Ranil’s tremendous achievement will encourage the chapter and its members to realise that the contributions made from within our chapter can impact the IAA as a whole. “

Ranil de Silva was overwhelmed by the honour and touched by the gesture. In accepting the recognition, he said that “It is the first time ever that someone had recognized my commitment and passion for the profession. I have given my best towards the industry because I love the profession and Ad 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.”

There is no doubt that the IAA Global Medal of Merit ranks high among Ranil de Silva’s other accolades. The fact that he is the first Sri Lankan to be recognized by an International entity and awarded such a prestigious global award reiterates his dedication and contribution to the industry.

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