HEADLINER: Walker Media’s centre stage beckons reformed porn star - An honest negotiator with a shady past. Claire Beale on Walker’s latest signing

By CLAIRE BEALE, campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 27 February 1998 12:00AM

’Suffer, baby, suffer’ may sound like a perfectly normal refrain gobbed by your average bastard broadcast director, but it is far from the smooth patter you’d expect to hear curling from the lips of Jon Horrocks.

’Suffer, baby, suffer’ may sound like a perfectly normal refrain

gobbed by your average bastard broadcast director, but it is far from

the smooth patter you’d expect to hear curling from the lips of Jon

Horrocks.



Yet skimming through the very slim volume that constitutes Horrocks’

press clippings, it seems the man is famed more for his nifty ability to

growl ’suck on this, babe’ than for striking fear into the hearts of

London’s media owners.



But this porn movie voiceover artist turned media director saw his name

in lights for all the right reasons last week. Horrocks is the newly

appointed broadcast director of Walker Media (Campaign, 20

February).



It might not, actually, be a long journey from porn star to media man,

but it is certainly going to be a long journey from the black hole of

John Ayling & Associates, where Horrocks is a director, to the rather

more exposed world of Walker Media.



For Horrocks, on the face of it, is not a natural choice for the top TV

post at what is now London’s most talked-about media agency. He’s been

at Aylings for ten years, and who’s ever heard of anyone from John

Aylings other than John Ayling? You might have expected two fuck-off

names such as Christine Walker and Phil Georgiadis, Walker Media’s top

team, to go for a fuck-off broadcast director, and for all his way with

porn, fuck-off Horrocks ain’t.



What he is, though, is complementary. If Walker and Georgiadis sit at

opposite ends of the personality scale (loud and brash to quiet and

considered), then Horrocks believes he is comfortably in the middle.

’The chemistry’s good,’ Horrocks explains, ’I can be very tenacious to

get what I want, but will take my time and do it properly.’


Walker Media was looking for a broadcast director with a rounded feel

for media communications and client servicing rather than someone who

could just hammer out a low-price deal. Horrocks says he left Ray Morgan

& Partners in 1987 to join Aylings because he wanted to supplement his

buying skills with a more considered approach to planning. After ten

years, he ought to have picked up a thing or two.



And Horrocks relishes the prospect of starting from scratch at a

pristine company. ’OK, we’re not reinventing the wheel, but it’s a

fantastic opportunity to do things right from the start,’ he explains.

’I get to build my own department, help win the business that will

establish the agency. I couldn’t turn that down.’



Horrocks admits that if he’d shied away from Walker Media’s offer ’I

would have been at Aylings for life, it would have given off the wrong

signals’. But what timing he has. Aylings is currently fighting to

retain the Kimberly-Clark account, worth pounds 20 million in the UK,

just as the key man on the business waves goodbye. It’s a coincidence

Horrocks feels uncomfortable about. ’But if there’s any justice in this

business, then how Aylings performed for the client over the years will

speak for itself.’



Emotionally, he says, it will be a big wrench to leave the account

behind, but at Walker Media he’ll get involved in new business and have

the opportunity to work on a whole host of new clients.



And despite Horrocks’ low profile, he is seen as a good hiring for

Walker Media, a solid operator without a big-name price-tag. Being

tucked away at Aylings, outside the obligatory aggressiveness of the

volume negotiators, Horrocks has had scant opportunity to ruffle media

owner feathers. There are few enemies out there.



He is a fresh choice, says Nick Milligan, the sales director of Channel

5. ’Jon is very well respected, held in high regard, and he’s

trustworthy, tough but fair. He gives it good and strong in a

negotiation but we’ve never had a shouting match, he’s got too much

strength of character for that.’



The Horrocks character is not in-your-face. Described often as

’charming’ and ’refined’, he admits that he gets good marks when set

against the stereotypical TV buying gorilla, while conceding ’it’s just

a relative thing’. I don’t tell him someone affectionately calls him

Rhino Arse.



He plays golf, coaches rugby to under-13s, loves the theatre and likes

to think he’s very sociable. For all his sophistication, though,

Horrocks has something of the lad about him. Several mates joke about

lap dancing and ’tour rules’ when asked about the Horrocks skeletons.

’He likes the women,’ one says, quaintly, while another is a little more

explicit: ’After a couple of pints he gets leachy. He’s a single boy out

to play.’



All of which should reassure Walker Media and its clients that this is a

man well at ease in the media melee.



The Horrocks file

1983 Benton & Bowles, media trainee

1985 Ray Morgan & Partners, associate director

1987 John Ayling & Associates, group manager

1995 John Ayling & Associates, director

1998 Walker Media, broadcast director



This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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