DJ Taylor: Adland veteran Tony Kippax is a ducker, a diver, a weaver and, above all, a survivor


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Despite his comparatively youthful appearance – crinkly black hair worn in a ponytail, the suspicion of a goatee – it takes only a moment or two of Tony Kippax's conversation to establish that he has been working in advertising for a very long time.

Long enough, for example, to remember the great days of Saatchi & Saatchi and the "Labour Isn't Working" poster campaign that was supposed to have helped win the 1979 General Election for the Tories.

In fact, Tony appeared on the poster himself, and will cheerfully admit that its serpentine trail of supposedly unemployed people was composed of several of the art director's friends and a busload of Young Conservatives.

Great days they were, and, by the standards of the penny-pinching present, impossibly lucrative. The proudest episode of Tony's professional career came on the May morning in 1988 when the newly founded firm of Kippax & Mendelson undertook to devise a television campaign for a brand of cider. The billings amounted to £1.2m. Tony split the 10 per cent commission with his MD, and three hours later was the proud possessor of a new BMW and a fortnight's holiday with the current Mrs Kippax in Acapulco.

Of course, it's all changed since then. No one watches TV any more, or rather not the kind of TV Tony and his ilk can make serious money from. Not to mention the wretched web – the worst thing, in Tony's opinion, that ever happened to advertising – and the clients who've been reading marketing magazines and talk about micro-campaigns and demographic sub-targeting. Kippax & Mendelson morphed into Kippax, Fowler and Peabody, then Kippax, Golightly, Foster, and there was a precarious moment in 2002, after Alpine Dew pulled its account, when there was only Kippax.

But Tony does not repine. He is, as he will frequently inform his listeners, a ducker, a diver, a weaver and, above all, a survivor. To hear him talk of the celebrated products he has promoted over the years – the soft drinks with which he would not have deigned to wash his car, the fast foods which ought to have had government health warnings – is to uncover both a brand of cynicism one had thought vanished from the world and a vein of comedy that very nearly redeems him. If the world is a trough, there are worse people around to rattle the swill bucket than Mr K. Just about.