10 April 2024

Ex Wunderman Thompson chief, Tarun Rai, joins Start Design Group

Announcing the appointment, Start Design Group said, “we couldn’t have found a better person to join our board and help introduce Start Design Group to the Indian and South Asian markets. Tarun has over three decades experience in advertising and media, and has worked with a host of world-class companies, both Indian and international. He has strong relationships with his clients, is a proven leader and has an excellent understanding of branding and design.”

Commenting on his appointment, Tarun added, “I am very impressed by the work Start Design Group has done for so many iconic brands, like Virgin, Barclays, P&G and adidas, over its 28 years history. I am also impressed by the breadth of their capabilities that range from branding and digital to experiential design. They have already been operating successfully in the GCC region for many years, and moving further eastwards makes a lot of sense. This is especially the case since David Blair (Start Design Group’s other Co-Chair) knows this market so well, having built Fitch’s India operations over many years. David was based in Mumbai for six years and we worked together on many assignments. He then moved back to London to head Fitch EMEA before becoming Global CEO. It’s great to partner him again.”

Tarun re-joined JWT in 2015 as its CEO for South Asia. He was made Chairman and Group CEO when JWT merged with Wunderman to form Wunderman Thompson (now VML). After a successful stint in South Asia, he was tasked with the responsibility for the APAC region, covering seventeen countries, as Executive Director.

David Blair, CEO and Co-Chair of Start Design Group, is a branding and design stalwart having worked with WPP owned Fitch (now Landor Group) over two decades. During that time, he performed many roles, but always viewed his time in India as a highlight, working with some of India’s best known companies including Tata, Reliance, Aditya Birla, Godrej and Asian Paints, among many others.

According to David, “Tarun and I first started working together in 2006 when I moved to India with my family to set up Fitch’s offices in Mumbai and Delhi. I have always admired his insight, tenacity, and innate ability to build lasting relationships based on trust and understanding. It is great to be working in India again alongside someone as experienced and well regarded as Tarun”.

Tarun further added, “Design language is increasingly international. Many Indian companies and brands are no longer limited to the local market but have a footprint across the world. To manage this, they need partners like Start Design Group who have extensive international experience and also understand the Indian market well.”