MEDIA HEADLINER: Creative chief swaps St Luke’s for the challenge of Channel 4. Dave Buonaguidi plans to bring a new perspective to the station. By Mairi Clark

Dave Buonaguidi is being typically male about having a cold. We’ve no sooner shaken hands than he’s popping Strepsils like they were Tic-Tacs and I hear myself offering him some cough medicine. Over-familiar it may seem but he has such an affable manner, you can’t help yourself.

Dave Buonaguidi is being typically male about having a cold. We’ve

no sooner shaken hands than he’s popping Strepsils like they were

Tic-Tacs and I hear myself offering him some cough medicine.

Over-familiar it may seem but he has such an affable manner, you can’t

help yourself.



I’d canvassed opinion before the interview and everyone said the same

thing; Buonaguidi is an incredibly bright and genuinely nice bloke. At

34, the joint creative director of St Luke’s is old enough and

experienced enough to be respected by his peers yet young enough to be

able to play pool with the junior creatives without them worrying that

they’re competing with the boss. His enthusiasm and endearing lack of

cynicism is such that at one point I have to remind myself that this is

someone who has spent more than 15 years in advertising - he’s not a

19-year-old creative who’s got his first job.



So why is a creative hot shot appearing in Campaign’s media pages?

Buonaguidi is packing up his art bag, waving goodbye to the agency world

and heading for media land as the creative director of Channel 4.



Channel 4 may be a bit of a culture shock to one used to the

pool-playing, inventive, employee-owned St Luke’s, but Buonaguidi is

insistent that he’s not about to force colleagues to roam the building

with their lap-tops and mobiles in a rucksack.



’Everything we’ve done at St Luke’s has been to make the work

better.



If anything, at Channel 4 it’s going to be me that has to collaborate

more than ever. We’ll all learn from each other. I feel like I’ve just

left college and I’m going into a job I know nothing about,’ he

says.



’I’ve no idea how the station works internally but I’ll try to get

everyone to look at things from a different perspective. I’m absolutely

terrified, but that’s good.’



It’s that fear of ’what am I doing’ that has prompted Buonaguidi’s move,

not a yearning for more money or an ego boost. ’If I was in this for

money, I’d never have set up St Luke’s. Neither am I doing it because I

want a bigger chair. It’s for the challenge. I remember the feeling we

had when we set up St Luke’s in 1995. To get anything like that again

makes me feel so lucky. It’s like getting an invite to the party of the

year,’ he says.



Half-Italian and half-Danish, Buonaguidi’s career in advertising started

when he graduated with a degree in art from Epsom School of Arts. In

1984, he partnered the copywriter, Steve Girdlestone, and joined TBWA.

Then, within the year, they moved to WCRS where they fell under the

creative directorship of Steve Henry and Axel Chaldecott, who spotted

and nurtured their talent.



In 1988, when Henry and Chaldecott left WCRS to set up Howell Henry

Chaldecott Lury, Buonaguidi and Girdlestone were the first creative

hirings. Buonaguidi split from Girdlestone and HHCL in 1991 to join J.

Walter Thompson, before returning to HHCL to partner the copywriter,

Naresh Ramchandani. A year later, Buonaguidi and Ramchandani were

poached by Chiat Day to be joint creative directors.



Chiat Day’s transformation into St Luke’s challenged the industry’s

perceptions of how an agency should be structured. In 1995, Chiat Day

merged with TBWA and the London agency broke away, taking most of its

clients with it to form the industry’s first co-operative, St Luke’s.

Last year, the agency announced it was splitting into three divisions

(Campaign, 25 July 1997), with Buonaguidi and Ramchandani heading the

unit developing ideas mainly in TV programming and features. Nothing

appears to have come of this yet, however.



’When we set up St Luke’s, we wanted to get out of advertising. We

discussed what we wanted to do and the TV programming idea came up. No

creative director I’ve worked under has been satisfied with ’just an

ad’. It’s the communication of a brand,’ Buonaguidi says. Channel 4’s

marketing director, David Brook, agrees. ’Dave’s experience will enable

him to encompass print advertising and new media as well as on-screen

activity,’ he says. ’We need key creative people to lead our talented

creative department. It should be more creative than a traditional

promotions role.’



Buonaguidi will take up his post in November. ’I don’t even know if I’m

expected to wear a suit - that’s how little I asked about the job,’ he

says. ’Channel 4 rang me the other day and said, ’We don’t know where to

put you.’



I had to say, ’Don’t worry about it. I haven’t had my own desk for four

years.’’





THE BUONAGUIDI FILE

1984: TBWA, junior creative - art director

1985: WCRS, junior creative - art director

1988: Howell Henry Chaldecott Lury, art director

1991: J. Walter Thompson, art director

1992: HHCL & Partners, senior creative - art director

1993: Chiat Day, joint creative director

1995: St Luke’s, co-founder and joint creative director



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