Who's doing the business in... advertising?
A Weekly Survey In Which Market Leaders Pick Their Market Leader
Wednesday 17 February 1999
Chairman, BNP DDB
The person I am most impressed with in the advertising industry is Jeremy Bulmore who is non-executive partner at WPP. He came to the top via the creative ladder which is the very best route in my opinion because if you can write and do your own ads you are practically on your way to being a one-man agency. But anyway, my reason for choosing Jeremy is simple. For me he is more insightful than anyone else in the industry.
Young and Rubicon
Maurice Saatchi because he has effected the most spectacular growth of an agency in memory. He was the driving force behind the "revenge" creation of the M&C Saatchi agency. Only someone with his focus could have done this; he sat back and thought "I want to number among the top 10 agencies in the UK; I want admiration." He fixed his sights on growth at whatever cost and he achieved it. He's up front and he's in your face. You just can't fail to admire him and the fact that in four years M&C Saatchi has gone from scratch to a place in our top ten agencies is a testament to his abilities.
Euro RSCG Wnek Gosper
The two people who stand out in the advertising business at the moment are Mark Wnek, who is our executive director, and Robin Wight who is the chairman of WCRS. I have picked these two in particular because they share a quality which is fantastically useful in the business these days - they are what I would term "hybrid" advertising people. There tends to be a sharp distinction between those who work on the creative side and those who work on the business side. For me, these two men have managed to combine both creative strategy and business acumen. It really is a fantastically rare combination. With their business sense, flair and strategic tendencies, they could be one man advertising agencies.
Delaney Fletcher Bozell
There have been three seminal figures in advertising. I should probably start by naming Bill Bernbach who was in advertising in the Fifties and Sixties in America. These were the days when advertising was polite. Bill brought the voice of Jewish New York into the headlines. He introduced a manner of appealing to the consumer which was short, punchy and catchy. Rather than having the voice of an estate agent, advertising was given the language of the sandwich bar. He created a whole new mood and introduced a refreshing immediacy to advertising.
Second I would pick Frank Lowe. He was a groundbreaker in advertising because he founded the belief in the UK that creative work was worth fighting for. Rather than following to the letter the client's demands, Frank thought it was vital to respect the integrity of the artefact. Although he was ultimately doing the client's work he thought it was important to realise that the client doesn't always know best. For example the client could decide that they wanted the smallest thing changed but Frank realised it would affect the entire balance of a campaign if even the smallest detail was changed. He was the first apostle of the advertiser as expert.
Finally, there's David Abbott of Abbott, Mead and Vickers.Twenty years ago, David Abbott brought a middle-class sensibility to advertising. David believed that quality was worth looking at with a certain degree of intelligence and respect. For example, the supermarket campaign always used to be based on the pile it high, sell it cheap mentality. But David said no, let's do it another way and focused on aspects such as the variety and quality of food available. His wasn't an entirely polysyllabic form of advertising but it was more so than previously. It's implicit in his ads for Sainsbury's, BT and Volvo among other things. But to reiterate, the important aspect of David's attitude to advertising was that he insisted on a respect for the people to whom he was talking.
I'd like to single out two people in particular. First is Michael Baulk who is chief executive with AMV. I admire him particularly for the manner in which he was able to step into a situation where he was successor to the hugely successful legacy of David Abbott and to achieve it with enormous success. It's never easy to be a successor and he managed it. His business acumen is also a reason to single him out. He has balanced the seemingly conflicting ingredients in advertising - management and creativity and he has married these two criteria to great effect. I also have to mention Martin Boase of BMP. He has achieved 30 years of excellence with seemingly effortless ease. He has built a culture which has stood the test of time and he's done this thanks to his clear vision and lightness of touch. He managed to create a working environment in which there is a single- minded clarity regarding the agencies intentions. It is thanks to him that BMP is one of the most successful agencies, and Agency of the Year.
Walsh, Trott, Chick, Smith
John Webster would be my choice. At the moment he's at BNP where he used to be Creative Director. He has created some of the greatest advertising campaigns I have ever seen. He's BNP's secret weapon - innovative, original and brilliant. Creatives are absolutely vital to advertising agencies because you live or die by your creativity - it's what the clients can't do themselves. An advertising agency simply cannot be successful without successful campaigns and your campaigns are designed by your creatives, at the heart of the agency.
Partner, M&C Saatchi
Maurice Saatchi is a seminal figure in advertising. He utterly changed the landscape of the advertising business. Actually I'd say both Maurice and Charles. They were the first to create a really big agency which was creatively outstanding. Before the Saatchis arrived on the landscape we had either British boutique agencies or huge and boring multinational companies. The Saatchis enabled the advertising agency to take the best of both worlds: they combined the independence and flexibility of the small company with the size of the multinational. Their move allowed lots of very good big agencies to flourish. The Saatchis really did break the mould; thanks to their entrepreneurialism they were able to smash the orthodox pattern of the old-style agency which was too constrictive for this business. They see nothing wrong in being aggressively creative and complement each other perfectly.
Chairman, St Lukes
I'm not sure if my choice of adman is really legitimate, as I don't think he's still alive. But the most interesting person I've seen in advertising has been Bill Bernbach who was working in the Fifties in America. I choose him because he turned his back on the conventions of the advertising industry. He took the decision to put the art directors and the copywriters together to create the first ever creative team, a system is still operational. It offered us a whole new organisational model which was truly inspiring. It would be more difficult for me to name someone who is around these days, as advertising has become far too conventional. Everyone lives in their cosy advertising world; there are fewer and fewer independent agencies around as they are all being bought by the global conglomerates in the pursuit of shareholder value. And there are no more creative risk takers. However, if you were to force my hand, I'd have to say Martin Sorrell who is the chairman of WPP. He has a steady hand on a large corporate tiller.
David Ogilvy impresses me most out of those in the advertising business at the moment. He is exceptional because he started out in advertising at the age of 40 which is difficult enough to do but he went over and was a tremendous success in the US market. There are very few people in our business who have broken into and made a success of themselves in that particular market. I think the main reason he was able to do this was thanks to his vision. One of the first really important things he spotted was the Internet's potential. He also has personality, which is vital - he's not just a man in a suit and he's not just a "suit" he has bridged the gap between the creative and the suit. He is successful, forceful, interesting and determined.
Partner, M&C Saatchi,
The people I admire most in the industry are my joint chief executives Moray MacLennan and Nick Hurrell. As far as I'm concerned they are the best I know in the advertising industry; they know the most about advertising.
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