THE BRAINY BUNCH: Kevin May looks at the individuals who have shaped the ad industry and those who are set to do so

This is a controversial subject. Any discussion of "braininess" is

both emotive and elusive.



It is emotive because it approaches the nub of what differentiates

strong from weak in the advertising business. All great campaigns have

some sort of braininess at their roots. It is so emotive that none of

those interviewed for this article were prepared to have quotes

attributed to them.



Even more striking, though, is the elusive element, the extent to which

few can agree on what braininess actually means. It certainly goes

beyond academic polish. Einstein probably wouldn't have made a fantastic

adman and there is some suggestion that raw cleverness can be a distinct

disadvantage to a career in advertising. The road to the front pages of

Campaign is littered with purely brainy people who somehow got lost in

the argument.



Too much University of Analysis and Theory, not enough of the old

University of Life.



What counts more in advertising is an all-round intelligence with a

pragmatic edge. It is the ability to sort the wheat from the chaff and

arrive succinctly at the root of the issue. The focus is people with a

proven track record for smartness who have quick, sharp minds. They are

intuitive and forward-thinking, but know how to be expedient. They have

their feet on the ground.



They have cleared themselves of the cant of advertising and think

thoroughly and differently. Their outlook is visionary.



And they have credibility. Our list has been compiled from a survey of

other people's perceptions rather than some sort of examination. Those

on it are there because they are valued for their braininess by

colleagues, clients, commentators and observers. They are role models

for the industry.



We have two lists. The first contains the established advertising gurus

whose influence has been impacting throughout the advertising world for

some time. The second is of the stars of the last decade or so who are

likely to have as broadly felt an influence in due course. All 20 are

still active on the UK advertising scene.



THE GURUS



DAVID ABBOTT: Non-executive director, Miles Calcraft Briginshaw

Duffy



The former creative force of Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO is famed as the

wordsmith with the magical touch. The sweetness and charm of his

demeanour disguises a brutality of purpose underneath. Never a creative

luvvy, he possesses the planner's instinct always to look from the point

of view of the consumer and the brand. One former colleague describes

him as "embodying all the talents across all of the disciplines combined

into one bloke". He creates sustainable campaigns that cut through the

morass of one-off ads.



NIGEL BOGLE: Chief executive officer, Bartle Bogle Hegarty



A mixture of integrity and brilliance, Bogle is noted for his lateral

way of thinking and natural instinct to look at things another way. "He

has a knack for deconstructing issues and coming up with pithy phrases

that get right to the heart of the idea," one colleague notes. Along

with the agency policy of no creative pitches and a non-network

international strategy, his legacy includes the financial transparency

which he championed for the industry.



SIMON BROADBENT: Director, BrandCon



A well-established guru, he has been credited with being "one of the few

figures who has significantly influenced advertising thinking over the

past three decades". He has written and edited numerous texts on

advertising that have become standard reading for planners, and was

instrumental in setting up the IPA Effectiveness Awards. He was the

industry's first scientist, replacing opinion with certainty. A pioneer

in econometric analysis and modelling.



LESLIE BUTTERFIELD: Chairman, Partners BDDH



Butterfield's contribution to the intellectual capital of the industry

has been immense and publications with his name on are legion. A pioneer

in the financial evaluation of brands, his approach is grounded in a

pragmatic appreciation of business. His tenacity combined with an

ethical sensitivity leads one colleague to liken him to the lawyer

Michael Mansfield: "Seeing him present is like being in the middle of a

courtroom cross-examination."



TIM DELANEY: Chief executive, creative director, Leagas Delaney

London



The ultimate creative purist to whom compromise is an alien concept,

Delaney is a beacon of commitment to the power of the big idea. His

approach is highly instinctive and, for some, frustratingly dogmatic,

but he is an accomplished strategist and businessman. The attention to

detail and elegance of his work, and what he demands of others, position

him as the standard to which most creatives still aspire.



CHRIS POWELL: Chairman, BMP DDB



Described by Peter Mandelson as the "thinking man's advertising

executive", he orchestrated five election campaigns for the Labour Party

culminating in the landslide victory of 1997. Like many of the most

intelligent, his boredom threshold is low as his mind works so quickly

that he is usually beyond the solution before others have started to

understand the problem.



His stint as the president of the IPA set the agenda for the industry

that is still being followed today.



MAURICE SAATCHI: Partner, M&C Saatchi



Not many people start up an agency and figure out how to make it exceed

its wildest potential once. Even fewer do it twice, at Saatchi & Saatchi

and now M&C Saatchi. Despite this achievement, he has no arrogance, is

an exceptional listener and is willing to learn from anyone. He knows

the right questions to ask, cuts through the waffle and gets to the

answer. He is a voracious reader, which makes him very knowledgeable as

well as very intelligent.



JEREMY SINCLAIR: Partner, M&C Saatchi



Not one to be heard raising his voice, he has an aura of stillness

masking a mind that never stops motoring. He has a fascination for how

things work and how people will react to them. He accepts reality and

comes up with a better solution despite it. According to a colleague:

"He thinks deeper and differently better than most people. In a world

with no space and no time, he creates both."



JOHN WEBSTER: Executive creative director, BMP DDB



Advertising's greatest storyteller, Webster's focus at work has always

been just on the work rather than the frippery that surrounds the

business. As one industry observer puts it: "If every creative had been

like Webster, then researching advertising concepts would never have

started as an industry." His skill at making observations about life and

translating them into advertising that strikes a real emotional chord

has set standards that few have lived up to.



ROBIN WIGHT: Chairman, WCRS



The man with the famous bow-ties is foremostly a fount of passion and

energy. He possesses a seemingly endless supply of ideas of all shapes

and forms, delivered with an enthusiasm more reminiscent of an eager

schoolboy. He combines this with being an infectious motivator who knows

how to get the best out of the people around him. As one of his peers

comments: "Advertising needs people like Robin. He should definitely

stay out of politics."



THE 'YOUNG' PRETENDERS



AJAZ AHMED: Co-founder and chairman, AKQA



A surviving dotcom "millionaire", Ahmed demands originality from

everyone he works with, including himself, and never justifies a bad

idea. His mind moves in multiple directions simultaneously but he is

able to harness his thoughts, turning them into practical ideas. His

vivid imagination adapts to any timescale and is as strong contemplating

the long term as the short term. There is a confidence about him, partly

born of a naturally strong intellect and partly by the enormous success

he has enjoyed.



TIM BROADBENT: Executive planning director, Bates UK



A businessman more than a strategic theorist, one colleague credits

Broadbent with "being the only planner I know who really believes in and

understands the measuring of advertising". His approach is not

touchy-feely but is instead anchored firmly in the concrete and rational

and he spends extra time digging deeper when others would jump to

conclusions. He has the ability to distill complexity in a way that

inspires creatives to produce work that delivers tangible results.



SIMON CLEMMOW: Founder, Clemmow Hornby Inge



Very much a "creatives' planner", Clemmow is equally at home as the

grand strategist analysing complex business issues with clients as he is

rolling his sleeves up and getting involved with the details of the ads

on the creative floor. He manages to bring order out of chaos and has a

knack for getting straight to the heart of an issue when confronted by

endless opinions and information. Spots bullshit at a hundred paces.



GARY DUCKWORTH: Chairman, Duckworth Finn Grubb Waters



Gary Duckworth is widely regarded as a considered thinker who takes his

time to deliver structured, precise and passionate points of view. A

shunner of marketing jargon, Duckworth's language is personal, human and

incisive. According to one colleague: "His brain is like an ultra

absorbent socio-cultural sponge. You wouldn't believe he could watch as

much TV as he does and still make it into work every day." He is

insatiably inquisitive and also has an intuitive understanding of

people, however diverse.



STEVE HENRY: Founder and creative director, HHCL & Partners



The driving intellectual force behind HHCL's mission to seek out the

different, Henry's way of thinking and working has seen more than a few

moulds being broken in the last decade. Despite this approach, he

remains measured and untemperamental. There is a subversive, acute sense

of irony in his humour, and his use of language is eloquent and

incisive. Very quick-witted, he is advertising's answer to Stephen

Fry.



RICHARD HYTNER: Chairman and chief executive officer, Publicis



Although highly driven and ambitious, he is marked out by an uncommon

decency that makes him a natural manager of people. He is sensitive to

those around him and is an accomplished listener who encourages open,

confident debate. His is a thoughtful intelligence that gets the best

out of those around him. His time at the Henley Centre has given him

another dimension.



NIGEL JONES: Chief executive, Claydon Heeley Jones Mason



A chess player of nigh on professional standing, the easy option for him

would have been to remain the head of planning at BMP. He saw the future

lying beyond traditional advertising and chose instead to move into the

field of through the line with his own venture. Ruthlessly logical, he

reduces complexity into the clearest, simplest terms.



GEORGE MICHAELIDES: Managing partner, Michaelides & Bednash



Viewing media as culture rather than just numbers, he was the first to

blend the disciplines of account planning and media in a standalone

company. He is prepared to challenge anything or anybody, but always in

a clear and thoughtful manner. He is fanatical about detail and,

according to one colleague: "He actively enjoys analysis and getting

right under the skin of ideas." Good at seeing the world

differently.



MT RAINEY: Joint CEO, Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R



The first thinker to put a value on ideas per se, Rainey is a natural

contrarian, happiest when going against the popular grain. She avoids

pat answers and the ruts of lazy thinking and is not a dispenser of

wisdom on tap. Her thoughts are always done to order and are usually at

their best when produced under pressure. She is not detached but always

fully immersed and focused on the task in hand.



ROBERT SAVILLE: Creative partner, Mother



He took the unusual route to the creative director's chair by starting

his career as an account handler, a background that has made him a very

strong all-rounder. He possesses a restless mind and modern outlook and

has successfully delivered what was promised in the founding of Mother,

which continues to function perfectly well without account management.



Topics