The Annual 2006: Top 10 oldest adland stars

1. Sir Martin Sorrell (61)

Indefatigable, the WPP chief executive is the man who never appears to sleep. Nobody, apart from, say, his great sixtysomething Publicis counterpart, Maurice Levy, remains so closely linked with their communication empires. Why does he do it? Less for the money, more for the adrenalin rush that comes from doing the deal. He's still the man whose opinion counts most when it comes to predicting adland's economic future.

2. Maurice Saatchi (60)

Possessed of the most famous name in advertising, the quiet authority of the M&C Saatchi founding partner commands a respect that belies his years. So much so that his speeches still get widely reported, even when they have little new or radical to say. Always introduces himself by saying: "Hello, I'm Maurice Saatchi." As if we didn't know.

3. Tim Bell (66)

More than 40 years in the business seems not to have dimmed the Chime chairman's enthusiasm. It must be infectious. In September, Chime reported a 62 per cent rise in pre-tax profits and reported organic growth well ahead of the market. Bell declared he was "having a great time" running the company.

4. Jeremy Bullmore (75)

What other septuagenarian could pronounce on the ups and downs of today's marcoms world and have people a third of his age hang on his every word? Answer: nobody but Bullmore. Not only are the analyses of Campaign's agony uncle brilliant, but he's also the master of the withering-but-oh-so-elegant put-down.

5. John Hegarty (62)

The approach of his personal autumn seems not to have reduced the Bartle Bogle Hegarty chairman's appetite for all things that are new and innovative in marketing communications. An art director famous as much for his visual flair as his verbal eloquence, Hegarty will not only go down in history as one of the finest creatives of his generation, but also as one always willing to embrace change.

6. Hugh Burkitt (61)

Impeccably spoken, Burkitt is full of the old-school charm that personifies adland's bygone age. Despite being thought of as a bit of a reactionary, he remains very much at the heart of the business as the chief executive of the Marketing Society. Since his arrival there three years ago, he has tightened up its membership criteria, image and purpose.

7. John Ayling (62)

Despite the fact that Ayling set up his operation 28 years ago, as a bolt-on media department for a new wave of creative start-ups, he is no dinosaur. Ayling still talks passionately about integrity, hard work and building a great team if you want to succeed. Old-fashioned values? Perhaps. But Ayling insists that it is these values that still make him want to get up in the morning.

8. Robin Wight (62)

Forget the flamboyant suits, the trademark bow-ties and the shameless style, the WCRS founding partner is far from being a total triumph of style over substance. Wight still thinks deeply about what drives successful brands, and shows a competitiveness and enthusiasm for the business that would put most of his juniors' efforts in the shade.

9. Tim Delaney (60)

Delaney's heady mix of idealism and perfectionism might not be to everybody's taste. Certainly, he has never been the easiest person to work with. Yet he still speaks out against what he sees as adland's cosy status quo and there is no doubt it has been a better place for his presence. Delaney has never shied away from a challenge (remember his reform of D&AD in the 90s) and is never likely to.

10. Bill Muirhead (60)

Employed by the Saatchi brothers as their first-ever account man 34 years ago, the M&C Saatchi founding partner is still a key conduit to some of the agency's most important clients, possessing a contacts book to die for. Beneath Muirhead's affable Aussie style and self-deprecating persona, there lurks a very sharp brain.

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