THE A LIST: Adland's most admired Person

No surprise to find that Nelson Mandela heads adland's most admired person table, ahead of a war-time PM and our favourite agony uncle.

This is surely a hugely revealing analysis. Strip out mother/father/parents (which were discounted from the line-up we have here, though collectively by far the largest response) and the top of the table is comprised of that triumvirate of 20th-century political heroes - Nelson Mandela, Sir Winston Churchill and, er ... Jeremy Bullmore.

But come to think of it, Bullmore is now a father figure to the whole industry so, arguably, you have to go even further down the list to find influences outside the family. Anyone for Baroness Thatcher?

Imagine this little lot on the cover of Sergeant Pepper's. You could argue (putting yourself in the place of a dispassionate observer from outside the industry) that this is a pretty motley bunch of heroes, Mandela aside, of course. His runaway victory in this poll is as understandable as it is predictable. Few figures in recent public life have so memorably combined such attractive virtues: integrity; bravery; forgiveness; fortitude and patience. No matter what business you're in, you'd like to believe you can embody a hundredth of his courage and principle.

Mandela is also a modern patron saint of apparently lost causes. Who would have believed in the Churchill era - or even the Thatcher era, come to that - that such victories could have been won?

And, as it goes, the appearance of Churchill in such a high position in the list is rather an odd one. You would need to be at the very youngest a fiftysomething to have any meaningful personal memories of Churchill, who died in 1965, but who was already fading into an enfeebled shadow of his former self by the late 40s.

Yes, he was our leader in an hour of need, and OK, he took on Hitler with nothing more than a fat cigar and a V-sign, but it's still hard to fathom the popularity of a historical figure such as this, especially in an industry that is supposed to be fixated on youth - Bullmore excepted.

Let's face it - Bullmore at whatever age will always be fresh. Wise as a Buddha, genial as the most genial of genial old uncles - who wouldn't want to be Jeremy Bullmore when the time comes? And who would refuse if, a twinkle in his eye, he offered to let you take the odd leaf out of his book?

And so on down to the middling ranks - and the inevitable conclusion that there will always be those in any walk of life who find the leadership style of a Thatcher worthy of adulation.

But it's in the bottom half of the table that we start hitting upon the fantasy dinner party material. The five-time Tour de France-winning US cyclist Lance Armstrong, Mahatma Gandhi and the Newcastle United manager, Sir Bobby Robson, have all in their different ways (and to greatly differing ends, of course) emerged triumphant over adversity and through physical suffering; and Muhammad Ali, whose personal tragedy was to come many years after his sporting triumphs, was (like Mandela) a focus for all sorts of battles against injustice.

And so to a couple reflecting the creative nature of our industry. First, we have a sublimely gifted creator, not just of images but of whole ways of seeing the world; a man who, displaced from his native land, set about reinventing the whole language of his craft; a vital, charismatic and passionate artist in every sense of the word: and then we have Pablo Picasso.

Which leaves us with two pretty odd ones, on the face of it so different but in their obsessive, driven characters, strangely similar - the Boy's Own-style hero and Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton and Arsene Wenger, the manager of Arsenal FC, who neither triumphed over adversity nor vanquished the forces or darkness in any meaningful manner. He apparently spends all of his spare time watching videos of French reserve games.

Oh well, it takes all sorts. Just ask Ben Langdon or Mike Teasdale - they both nominated themselves. As a joke, we trust.

POSITION PERSON VOTES

1 Nelson Mandela 26

2 Sir Winston Churchill 12

3 Jeremy Bullmore 10

4= Sir Martin Sorrell 6

4= Baroness Margaret Thatcher 6

6= Muhammad Ali 5

6= Lance Armstrong 5

6= Mahatma Gandhi 5

9= Sir Bobby Robson 4

9= Charles Saatchi 4

Also-rans: Ernest Shackleton (3), Pablo Picasso (3),

Arsene Wenger (3).

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