For evidence of how hard it is, look no further than Campaign's Kings of Madison Avenue series. Of the 19 subjects profiled since the beginning of 1998, almost half are no longer in place. Time has caught up on the likes of Bruce Mason (ex-True North) and Roy Bostock (ex-McManus Group), who opted to cash in their chips while still having a sufficient span of years to enjoy their considerable accumulated fortunes.
The curse of ill health prevented Chris Jones fulfilling his potential as the chief executive of J. Walter Thompson Worldwide, while Young & Rubicam's Mike Dolan was not seen by Sir Martin Sorrell's WPP as the man to lead the network towards a bright new dawn. Elsewhere, John Dooner didn't live up to expectations as the man who could restore the investment community's confidence in an Interpublic whose poor financial performances were exacerbated by an accountancy scandal. Today, he sticks to his knitting back at the top of McCann-Erickson.
Then there's Michael Bungey, the Cordiant chairman, who never shook off the perception of him as an over-extended agency account man and who sealed his group's fate with a series of acquisitions which, with hindsight, look to have been the height of folly.
Others have not only consolidated their kingdoms but extended them. Maurice Levy, the charismatic and ambitious Publicis Groupe boss, now commands an empire that includes Saatchi & Saatchi and Leo Burnett and has emerged as one of the global advertising elite. And a European to boot.
David Bell is proving an equal surprise. An old-style classic adman, nobody saw the former True North chief executive as much more than a stop-gap answer at the top of Interpublic. Yet the communications behemoth is showing signs of recuperating, thanks in no small measure to Bell's popularity with Wall Street.
Doubtless, the subjects of Campaign's new series, The Networkers, will suffer equally diverse fates. Ann Fudge, just a year into her job as the chairman and chief executive of Y&R Brands, has put collaboration high on her list of priorities.
Meanwhile, it remains to be seen whether her extensive client-side experience will work in Y&R's favour or hamper it. When you've been a buyer of advertising for so long, it's often hard not only to transform yourself into a seller of it but to come to terms with a nonconformist creative process. May fortune favour her. She'll need it.
NEW MODELS NEED TO REFLECT MEDIA USE
The IPA is pushing ahead with research to aid the planning and measurement of cross-media campaigns while Capital Radio, Viacom Brand Solutions and IPC Ignite! are jointly offering cross-media campaigns to advertisers.
Welcome news at a time when consumers' media consumption has long ceased to conform to any set rules.