Feature

Diary: Old advertising soldiers recall past glories at RCA

Diary was in the unfamiliar territory of the Royal College of Art last week, surrounded by more David Hockneys than Charles Saatchi could shake a stick at.

The occasion was the annual Varley Memorial Award, awarded to the college's outstanding first-year student.

What ensued was akin to a history lesson - a reunion of blazered chaps with clipped accents and a military bearing, aka the one-time senior managers at Colman Prentice & Varley, telling tales of 50s adland, before those upstart Saatchis arrived to frighten the horses.

Chances are you're approaching your sell-by date if you remember CPV and its founder, Colonel Charles Varley CBE, but for the young whippersnappers of adland, it was the Fallon of its day.

Despite its glowing reputation as an art school that didn't give degrees (with Graham Sutherland frequently popping in to lend a hand), its merry alumni had some tales to tell about "the agency that drank itself to death".

Mike Yershon, later to become McCann Erickson's media director, remembers a bibulous lunch on his first day in the CPV media department. By the time last orders had been called at 3pm, 20 beers were lined up along the bar for him. Those were the days.

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