THE BOOK OF LISTS: Twitchers own up to having been bittern by birdwatching bug
campaignlive.co.uk, Tuesday, 16 December 2003 12:00AM
A Campaign survey has revealed that it's not just former Welsh Cabinet ministers who get their fun rustling around in bushes - some of advertising's finest are also linked to the practice.Pharmacia Limited, the manufacturer of Regaine hair restorer, is believed to be on the verge of signing a sponsorship deal backing Campaign's Top Ten Media Buyers list.
"Twitching", a ritual that has become advertising's own dirty little secret, involves dressing up in green clothing and secreting yourself away to spy on small, feathered creatures. Taking a lead from Rebekah Wade's "name and shame" crusade, we've published the top ten offenders.
Among the names revealed in the survey are Simon Marquis, the ZenithOptimedia UK chairman, Neil Wallis, the deputy editor of the News of the World, and David Byles, the chief executive of MindShare Latin America.
Strikingly, virtually all of the twitchers played down their hobby. "It's not out of control and I have the full support of my wife and family," one, who refused to be named, said.
Another acknowledged his obsession was spiralling out of control and confessed to his own "moment of madness" when he saw a bittern at Lea Valley Park. He then went into a long explanation that a recent successful breeding plan and the restoration of the bittern's natural reed-bed habitat had led to an increase in numbers.
While the ritual may seem harmless enough there are other more sinister names on the list. Toby Hoare, the chairman of Bates, has taken his habit to another level.
Not only does Hoare spend hours out of the house secretly stalking the birds, he also gets an extra kick from blasting them out of the sky.
- Top twitchers, p40.
Pharmacia's interest in the list began when it was revealed that few of the major industry figures it features have very much on top. This is down to one of this year's biggest structural ideas in media buying, whereby the broadcast and press buying functions are merged and the top job is given to someone (for instance, Mark "Billiard Ball" Jarvis at Carat) who boasts a shiny dome.
In a seemingly related development, media sales teams (especially those at national newspapers, although for some reason the Daily Mail appears to be exempt) have been ordered by their bosses to cultivate unusual barnets.
They have also been using videos of Benny Hill applying manual tribute to his fellow comedian Jackie Wright to psyche themselves up.
Some have even been rumoured to have acquired large arsenals of bubble perm wigs in an array of lurid colours, though this may be to do with the party season.
A spokesman for Bic razors was unavailable for comment.
- Best media buyers, p16.
This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk
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