Rainmaker: Tales from the ‘accidental’ advertising guru

‘Rainmaker’ tells the story of Harmandar Singh, who rose from humble beginnings to become a force in the Malaysian advertising scene. (Muhammad Rabbani @ FMT Lifestyle)

In his line of work, he leaves nothing to chance. And certainly, there is hardly any room for error. Yet, in an ironic twist, Harmandar Singh has likened himself to an “accidental” guru in the advertising industry.

“I pushed my way into the advertising industry in a case of mistaken identity. It seems all turbans are one and the same.”

And that is indeed the opening line to his recently published book, “Rainmaker – Making brands and people famous and furious for three decades.”

Quite an intriguing start to the book, or any book for that matter, and it entices you to read on to learn how this incident of errors unfolded.

And perhaps, that is exactly what the author intended, and given his reputation as a talented marketer, who can say for sure?

For folks who are unacquainted with the local advertising scene, the name Harmandar, but Ham to friends, may not ring any bells in particular.

Figures in the advertising industry, on the other hand, will almost certainly know of this man and his accomplishments by the mere mention of the name.

If you happen to remember any particularly memorable advertisements in the past decade or so, it’s likely Ham had something to do with it.

Founder of Sledgehammer Communications, Ham wears many hats (or turbans, rather), being a writer, academic and Mercy Malaysia exco member, among other things.

Needless to say, his many years of experience in the field of advertising have endowed upon him a hoard of conventional wisdom hard to find anywhere else.

Hence, it is for the benefit of the everyday man that Ham compiled his thoughts and experiences in “Rainmaker”.

A rainmaker is a person who generates income for a business or organisation by brokering deals or attracting clients or funds. (Rawpixel pic)

If you are in the dark as to what or who a rainmaker is, the term refers to, “a person who generates income for a business or organisation by brokering deals or attracting clients or funds”.

Unsurprisingly, this definition aptly suits Ham as he has been in the industry long enough to have benefited clients many times over.

However, the 280-page paperback is not your conventional autobiography. Absent are the childhood tales that moulded his character, standard for memoirs. In its place however, are humorous, often insightful and memorable events of his illustrious advertising career.

A great storyteller – as anyone worth their salt in the advertising industry should be – Rainmaker is an interesting read not only for folks in advertising but the everyday man too.

Ham’s book, while perfect for folks in the advertising industry, is an enjoyable read even for the everyday man. (Muhammad Rabbani @ FMT Lifestyle)

“Every drop counts,” he writes in one chapter. “Even sin deserves respect. Every sip has a stirring. Slowly sip, every now and then, savouring the dark nectar from the Gods lingering on your tongue as you long for the life-changing fulfilment that is seconds away.”

And if you thought he was describing a particularly rare bottle of Bordeaux, think again. What you just read was Ham in his element, describing a sweet beverage loved by most at any and all A&W outlets nationwide.

A master of the English language, Ham has ensured that Rainmaker is peppered with such vivid descriptions and anecdotes, making this an enjoyable and easy read that is also rather riveting. So, be warned – you just might finish the book in a single sitting.

There are also heartfelt chapters in the book, in particular those about the late film director, writer and scriptwriter Yasmin Ahmad, a personal friend of Ham’s.

“Even though our beloved Yasmin Ahmad passed on 12 years ago, her work continues to live in the hearts and minds of Malaysians,” he writes.

Harmandar speaks highly of the late film director, writer and scriptwriter Yasmin Ahmad, who was a personal friend.

“She is the subject of almost all public or industry talks done by them (Petronas) at events and conferences. Can’t blame them, her commercials are still stunning to any audience.”

In “Rainmaker”, Ham also shares with his readers the nature of advertising careers. “Ad people work hard and play hard. They practically block out everything else from their mind and concentrate only on the job at hand.”

Despite the challenges inherent to this particular career, Ham does make it a point that joining the advertising industry can be a rewarding decision, and not just monetarily.

“Once in, you’ll find it difficult to get out,” he writes. “It absorbs you with its never-ending electricity to excel. That’s just the way it is.”



And that describes the book in a nutshell. Once you pick it up, it will be a good long while before you put it down.

A valuable treasure that good advertisers would want on their shelves, “Rainmaker” is a compelling read that offers a simple but interesting look into the often complex world of the advertising business.

To get a copy of ‘Rainmaker’, contact Ruby at 012-6135108 or send an email to [email protected]. You can also purchase it online here.

This article first appeared in FMT
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