Creatives vote for their media supermen (and superwoman)

Four senior advertising figures tell Joe Lepper who they rate as the best people they have worked with - and why.

Even for those new to the industry, the big split between media and advertising agencies of the 1980s still looms large.

Media has come a long way since then as it has emerged from under creative's shadow and forged its own identity. But it seems those days of working under one roof still hold fond memories for many from the creative world, who cherished the closer relationship between the two sides. So what, in their eyes, makes a great media person?

In a bid to find out, we asked four advertising bigwigs to name the greatest media person they've worked with - and found them in a nostalgic mood for an era of closer integration between the two disciplines.

William Eckeleshare, chief executive of BBDO Europe, says: "This may sound old-fashioned, but having media and advertising integrated really helped and I have fond memories from that time when we could all sit down together easily as a group and look closely at campaigns."

Former Evening Standard advertising director Alan Brydon, nominated as a media great by Malcom Duffy of MCBD, agrees: "I'm passionate that campaigns work better when media and advertising are integrated.

"We used to call them the corridor conversations. It made the work easy. You could meet up with people like Malcolm in the bar or have a conversation in the corridor and gain an insight into the creative side which helps the media you buy.

"What happens all too often now is that a lot of media people may know the product, but don't even know what is in the creative. I hope that level of integration returns."

But not all in media agree this was a "golden era" of closer working relationships. The IPA's president and PHD chief executive, David Pattison, believes the current situation of stand-alone media agencies "is different, but not necessarily worse".

"The opportunities to work closely together are still there. There isn't a divide, we are still the same profession, just different strands of it," he insists.

Another trait that our "greatest" nominees had in common, according to their advertising counterparts, is the ability to think creatively about how media can be used.

Here are some examples of how those media greats put their creativity into action:


Malcolm Duffy, creative director, Miles Calcraft Briginshaw Duffy

"I worked closely with Alan in the early 1990s during my time at AMV, when a lot of the agencies had in-house media teams. It was a good time, where collaboration was much easier, as I could just pop upstairs and talk to the media people rather than organise a meeting elsewhere.

Among the key figures I remember from that time, Alan really stood out because he was always available for the creative people, understood their needs and worked in a collaborative way. I was particularly struck by how approachable he was.

There has been a tendency with clients to just buy off-the-peg media and then get the creative to fit in with that. With Alan that would never happen - he was very bright and understood that media can be used creatively.

He also saw the importance of holding back money. There is nothing worse than coming up with a good topical campaign, only to be told there is not enough money. He was good at persuading clients of the importance of this. He really knew how to talk to clients and explain to them how the process worked - a real skill that was appreciated by the creative staff.

Among the campaigns Alan was involved with, I particularly remember his work for Volvo. This was during the early 1990s when Volvo was relaunching, looking to get rid of its emphasis on safety and look for a more adventurous image. It was vital the creative not only emphasised this, but that the media also made this type of dramatic impact. What Alan gave the campaign was a good mix to make the most impact, in particular, the use of outdoor posters and television."


Alan Brydon started his 27-year media career at Saatchi & Saatchi, before joining AMV's in-house media department, where he rose to media director. He then became managing director of Rocket, created when the department was merged with PHD. Then followed roles as managing director of CIA MediaNetwork, head of venture capital fund Accelerator Media and, most recently, advertising director at the Evening Standard. He quit the paper this summer without a job to go to and has since been linked with a role on News International's new London freesheet.


Rooney Carruthers, partner, Vallance Carruthers Coleman Priest

"Marc is the straightest, most honest person I have ever worked with. Being a bit of a media luvvie, I think every day when I was creative director at WCRS, I would be rushing to enthuse him over a media idea I had.

He would listen and then in his kindest words explain that, unfortunately, the client didn't have the money to spend. That's not to say these meetings were wasted - far from it. We would often come up with ingenious ways of using all media for clients such as BMW and Orange, and often felt like a creative team rather than a media and creative getting together.

Another factor is that Marc is always fun to work with - something many will already know, as most good media people in London have once in their lifetime worked under Marc.

What sets him apart from others in the media sector is his understanding of the creative work and not just saying no. He will always find his way around a budget problem and is also very client-facing. Also with Marc, you could always share a joke. He never gets down. A team with Marc leading it or being involved is always a team on the up, never a team on the down.

One of his most outstanding campaigns was the launch of Orange in 1994. We really enjoyed working together - and don't forget this was when media was an essential part of an advertising agency's make-up. Although things have changed, with the role now separate for better or for worse, from a creative point of view I don't think we get as enthusiastic when the two disciplines are separate. Maybe working so close with Marc makes my opinion slightly more biased. Who knows?"

[BX] career path

[BX] After starting his media career at Manchester-based Media Solutions in 1983, Marc Mendoza moved to WCRS's in-house media team three years later. There he made his name working on a number of high-profile brands, including Orange. He left WCRS in 1997 to become managing director of Mediapolis, which later went on to become MPG. After a stint as chief executive of MPG, Mendoza now runs the agency with his cousin Mark Craze, the former chief executive of Aegis UK. Mendoza is also a horseracing enthusiast.


William Eckleshare, chairman and chief executive, BBDO Europe

"Without a doubt, the best I've worked with is Pru Parkinson, from my time at APL and also when she set up Nylon. Of all media people, I think she is the best at understanding the business side of advertising and media, and also at understanding the consumer. That marrying of business sense with consumer knowledge is something she excelled at.

One of the best examples of her work was from our time at APL. We were working for Interflora. I remember her energy and understanding of consumers worked really well on this. On the creative side, we had pictures of luscious close-ups of flowers for the magazines, but she added to it by realising that the real joy of getting flowers is the moment when you open the card to find out who it is from.

Her idea was to stick a card that the reader could actually open, on the print advertisement, with these close-up images of flowers. This excellent idea really made the campaign stand out and shows how important it was that she was able to be so closely involved in the creative process.

What sets her apart in the media sector is that she is utterly unconstrained by convention and is somebody you look forward to working with. She has vivacity and energy, the ability to light up an office when she walks through the door and to create an atmosphere of optimism where there wasn't one before.

At APL she was always accessible and on hand to go through campaigns, ideas and looking at finding ways of doing things better."


Pru Parkinson has more than two decades' experience in the media sector, starting as a media assistant at Lovell & Rupert Curtis, before taking top roles at several agencies. She is currently a consultant after last year quitting Nylon, the WPP-owned media planning firm she co-founded in 2004 with Tony Regan and Martin Thomas. She has been managing director at Wunderman Interactive EMEA, a partner at Online Visibility, chief executive officer of Universal McCann London, deputy managing director of Western Media, media planning director at Kevin Morley Marketing and media director at Ammirati Puris Lintas (APL).


Ben Walker, creative director, Wieden & Kennedy

"What you find when you are a creative is that very few people within media actually understand the creative process. Gerry is one of the few - very few - media people who will talk to the creative team and genuinely understand the process. This is what marks him out, together with a handful of others in the media sector.

I knew Gerry from my time at Leo Burnett while I was a creative there and he was part of the in-house media team. We worked closely on a number of high-profile campaigns. My memories of Gerry are sitting with him to go over campaigns and creative ideas, which is rare for a media person. He was always interested, always had something to offer about the creative process and we on the creative side really felt that we were a team with the media side. As well as understanding the creative side, he was also good at promoting media planning to us creatively.

We worked on a lot of stuff together but it was his drive, determination and creative thinking on Oxfam which bore most fruit. Our strategy was to get away from the charity type stuff and advertise what great clothes you could get in the shops.

We got top fashion photographers to shoot top models in stuff we had bought from the shops and put the Oxfam logo in the corner. The photographers and models did the lot for free.

Gerry somehow managed to get us free media space in top fashion titles like GQ, national newspapers and poster sites in Central London. On the back of that we got umpteen column inches of PR, all absolutely free. We don't know how he did it. It must be that famous Scottish charm."


In June this year, Gerry Boyle was promoted to the post of UK chief executive at ZenithOptimedia after eight years with the company, including posts as head of planning and then as managing director. Before joining ZenithOptimedia, Boyle held media positions with Michaelides & Bednash and Leo Burnett.

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