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My Life in Media: Gerry Moira

Gerry Moira, 57, is chairman and director of creativity of the leading advertising agency Euro RSCG London. He started his career as a copywriter at Ogilvy & Mather, before rising to become creative director of the French-owned Publicis. Arsenal-supporting Moira dreamt up the Renault Va-Va-Voom campaign, featuring Thierry Henry. He is a member of a 14-piece soul orchestra, and has three sons and a daughter. He lives with the youngest two in Camden, north London.

So, what inspired you to embark on a career in the media?

Innumeracy and the inability to retain facts combined to render me unfit for proper employment. A love of words, a craving for constant approval, and a brutally short attention-span smoothed my way into advertising. Then fear and greed took over as the twin drivers of my career. Fear of failure and the kind of atavistic, bone-memory greed that comes from having four children in private education.

When you were 10 years old, which newspaper did your family get, and did you read it?

My entire sexual education and, possibly, orientation were gleaned from the London Evening Standard's coverage of the Profumo affair. It had everything – toffs'*'tarts and sex'*'spies – and has left us some extraordinary iconography. The Lewis Morley picture of Christine Keeler astride an Arne Jacobson chair was taken on the first floor of Peter Cook's Establishment Club, with the Dudley Moore Trio playing in the basement. The Sixties baby, yeah!

And what were your favourite TV and radio programmes?

Ready Steady Go!, Morecambe & Wise, Hancock's Half Hour, That Was The Week That Was. Any European cinema on BBC2 in the often forlorn hope that it would eventually get mucky.

Describe your job

The implacable and, if necessary, punitive promulgation of creativity in all its manifestations. Plus a little bit of ambience management and stress counselling. My job title is not only very long but comparatively new. It enables Euro RSCG to hire talent like Mark Hunter to run the creative department, and frees me to apply creative thinking to our own business as well as that of our clients.

What's the first media you turn to in the mornings?

The BBC Radio 4 Today programme, although James Naughtie's habit of answering his own questions is beginning to get on my tits, and I have to switch off Thought for the Day, or I cut myself shaving.

Do you consult any media sources during the working day?

BBC Online, Guardian Unlimited, YouTube.

What is the best thing about your job?

At the time of going to press, Euro RSCG is lying second in the ad-agency new-business league. I wrote much of the work for the recent creative pitches for Yakult and 3 mobile. Both campaigns will constitute major repositioning for these brands within their competitive sets. At Euro RSCG, we aim to create contagious ideas that create their own space within the consumer's pressured attention span, and get passed on from host to host. The future is about self-propelled ideas that go on working when the booster rocket of paid-for media has been jettisoned.

And the worst?

Clients often confuse conceptual creative thinking with the executional. This leads them to treat their agencies as some kind of craft guild, and, distressingly, pay them accordingly.

How do you feel you influence the media?

Advertising sits beside the media catwalk like a Topshop buyer at a couture show. We copy, we adapt, we get it out there fast.

What's the proudest achievement in your working life?

Kissing Kate Moss in the restaurant J Sheekey.

And what's your most embarrassing moment?

See above.

At home, what do you tune in to?

Radio 4, E4, the 4x4 channel. All the 4s, basically. Plus Radio Nova and Last.fm.

What is your Sunday paper? And do you have a favourite magazine?

The Observer and (guilty pleasure) The Spectator. I am also partial to the house-porn section of Country Life magazine, and I find The New Yorker essential reading for long train or plane journeys. Oh, God, whatever happened to that radical firebrand of my youth?

Name the one career ambition you want to realise before you retire

To keep my enthusiasm and keep my friends. I don't subscribe to the notion that one's creativity dries up at 50, but too many good people leave the advertising business around that time because they lose their curiosity and engagement.

If you didn't work in the media what would you do?


Whom in the media do you most admire, and why?

Stephen Fry. He's funny, clever and compassionate. And Clive James. He's funny, clever and prolific.

The CV

1977 Starts career as copywriter at Ogilvy & Mather

1982 After moving to Publicis, creates the 'Gripping Stuff' campaign for Pirelli, and 'What's Yours Called?' for Renault

1987 Leaves to co-found own agency, WGMO, which is sold eight years later to the publicly quoted Incepta Group

1995 Rejoins Publicis as executive creative director. Agency grows from 13th to 3rd in the UK

2002 Dreams up the Va-Va-Voom campaign for Renault

2005 Becomes director of creativity at Euro RSCG UK agency

2007 Is made chairman of the agency