Graeme Hutton has at last got the big-hitting role he deserves.
Last week Graeme Hutton was a nice bloke, good at his job and in the
slow lane to media oblivion. This week Graeme Hutton is not so nice. And
was he ever really that good at his job?
At least he’s been saved from oblivion. For Hutton, CIA Medianetwork’s
former European development director, has been snatched by Ammirati
Puris Lintas to be the agency’s European media director.
Suddenly Hutton has been transformed from an inoffensive, prosaic
backroomer to a high-flying, cross-border Mr Important, with the sort of
rumoured salary (pounds 150k?) guaranteed to bring out the critics
(salaries less than pounds 150k).
Hutton is quite pleased about this make-over of Cinderella proportions.
He’s not a great one for spontaneous displays of excitement, but he’s
looking forward to the Lintas ball. He is to take control of Ammirati
Puris Lintas’s European strategic media operations, ensuring a coherent
media structure across markets and developing best practices from
individual countries to provide the optimum pan-European service
(Campaign, last week). The brief comes with ‘big job’ written all over
it and Hutton has been identified as the man for the task.
With a beefy package, a fuck-off job title and the opportunity to
overtake on the inside straight into the fast lane, it’s easy to see why
Hutton wanted the job. But why did the job want Hutton?
Graeme Hutton - we’re not talking mega media brand, here. Not a razzle-
dazzler, limelight stealer, and certainly no glittery rising star. True,
he did win a major trophy at this year’s IPA Media Effectiveness Awards,
but it was for a paper called, appropriately, ‘Media’s mid-life crisis
and why research must reinvent itself’.
No, Hutton’s more the steady hand on the tiller, the solid-support man,
the thorough thinker, the guy that actually enjoys research, and, if
truth be told, who probably provides the firm foundation of any really
good media operation. In addition to the IPA recognition, Hutton has
also had industry endorsement through his chairmanship of the Audit
Bureau of Circulations, where he has increased turnover by 80 per cent.
What APL can also rely on Hutton for - solid media expertise aside - is
his dependability. This is the guy who stayed at Ogilvy and Mather for
the best part of ten years and has been at CIA for the past 13. In fact,
Hutton’s departure sees the end of the old dynasty which engineered the
CIA/Billett and Co merger.
Hutton is clearly a loyal dog, but has never quite made it to top dog at
CIA. Indeed, when Nick Kelvin joined the company as planning director
last year, Hutton found his own little kingdom overrun and was ousted
into the comparative wasteland of European development. While in the new
CIA hierarchy this was clearly a form of putting out to pasture, Hutton
found that he enjoyed the broader European canvas.
Hutton says that people who don’t know him probably think he’s boring
and researchy, but hopes those who do see him as honest and passionate,
always looking for new challenges. He likes to think of himself as
‘warm, open, friendly and relaxed’. Some agree that his non-threatening
manner, monotonous Malvern drawl and passion for the likes of skiing,
horseback riding and astrology do inspire a cosy state of somnolence and
a tickling affection for the man.
Hutton, round-faced, round-shouldered but not quite the Quasimodo the
Campaign photograph suggests, has certainly never quite discovered the
art of being a media lad. He seems generations away from his
contemporaries who match balding pates with a passion for Oasis.
This can work wonders with women, though. ‘In this media sea of middle-
aged male juvenilia, Graeme can be quite refreshing,’ one female fan
gushes. Mind you, he did reportedly begin dying his grey hairs last
year. He has, friends add, developed the sort of vanity only middle-age
men can master, and a predilection for younger women.
And with his new job, Hutton may prove himself a late peaker. After
years of being in other people’s shadow, he is now being given a real
chance to grab the mike. ‘I can’t imagine media without Graeme Hutton,’
was one client’s response to the news that he was moving on. But the
challenge for Hutton now is to ensure people think of media with Graeme
The Hutton file
1974 Ogilvy and Mather, press buyer
1979 Ogilvy and Mather, media group head
1983 Billett and Co, media director
1989 CIA Billett, planning director
1994 Audit Bureau of Circulations, chairman
1995 CIA Medianetwork, European development director
1996 Ammirati Puris Lintas, European media director