Claire Beale grills the duo who, together, have to fill Nick Brien’s
They’re not exactly a pretty couple. David Connolly, the brash Scotsman,
and Richard Beaven, the other one, probably wouldn’t pick each other on
Yet observe them in action together in their new roles as joint media
directors of Leo Burnett, and it’s clear why these guys make a pretty
They’re complementary, you see. Connolly (36, and endowed with the sort
of face that invites you to share the joke) is all heart-on-sleeve fire
and passion, inspiration and perspiration. Beaven (29, and shorter) may
not be the type to slap you across the face with the force of his
personality, but he’s steady and sensible. He’s definitely the calming
influence, the client hand-holder, the straight man - he sets up the
gags, Connolly fires them, his Scottish tongue rolling over itself in
In this, their honeymoon period, mutual appreciation runs riot. ‘Richard
is able to look at things with a greater perspective,’ Connolly
observes. ‘He’s always well prepared and organised.’ To prove this he
waves a sheaf of notes prepared for him by Beaven for use in the
interview: ‘He takes my impulsive ideas, shapes the good ones and
manages to convince me that the bad ones are crap.’ And weaknesses?
Connolly says he hasn’t found any.
Asked to supply the same critique of his partner, Beaven is equally
diplomatic: ‘A lot of people know David as an excellent negotiator, a
brilliant TV operator. But if that’s all they see, then they’ve missed
some real valuable aspects of his personality. David’s a great team
player, very lateral thinking, a brilliant ideas man.’ Even more
diplomatically (we’re not supposed to mention alcohol or women) Beaven
adds: ‘He’s a good social mover.’
If there’s one minor criticism Connolly has of his sidekick, it’s that
Beaven is quite reserved. ‘He doesn’t show his emotions,’ a bemused
Connolly says. ‘When we won the United Biscuits media centralisation
(pounds 16 million and a major triumph for the agency last year in the
face of stiff competition) I looked across at Richard sipping his drink
quietly in the corner of the bar. I couldn’t understand why he didn’t
want to get up on the tables and dance.’ Connolly, on the other hand,
admits to being ‘too emotional’.
They make an extremely likeable couple. The sort you’d invite over for
supper. Connolly would spend all night making you laugh and Beaven would
probably offer to do the washing up.
But nice ain’t enough to cut it in a media business where full-service
media departments are regularly being turned over by their more nimble
media independent competitors. Yet the marriage of Connolly and Beaven
is built on solid media experience.
Connolly has incontinence and catheter complaints to thank for his big
break into media, starting out as a sales executive on magazines such as
Nursing Mirror in 1980. After stints selling space on the Daily Record
and airtime at STV, Connolly jumped over the fence to join the media
independent, IDK, in 1989. IDK’s managing director, Tony Kenyon, remains
a big hero.
The rise of Beaven, 29, has been speedier, despite his lower profile.
After graduating from Bristol Polytechnic with a degree in business
studies, Beaven set his heart on an agency job and finally found a post
in a London agency in 1988, joining Geers Gross as a media
planner/buyer. In 1989 he moved across the road to Leo Burnett, where he
first teamed up with Connolly. After a brief defection to Saatchi and
Saatchi, Beaven returned to Burnetts last year.
You could argue that having ‘joint’ on your business card means ‘not
good enough to go it alone’ and, in this case, you’d probably be
right...for now. In fact, it’s hard to see either Beaven or Connolly
single-handedly filling Nick Brien’s shoes. But put them together and
these two halves make for a pretty convincing whole.
The Connolly file
1980 Magazine sales executive
1984 Daily Record, sales executive
1985 STV, senior negotiator
1989 IDK, group head
1991 Leo Burnett, broadcast director
1996 Leo Burnett, joint media director
The Beaven file
1986 Ford Farrow, media trainee
1987 Associated Poster Marketing, sales manager
1988 Geers Gross, media planner/buyer
1989 Leo Burnett, media planner/buyer
1993 Saatchi and Saatchi, planning group head
1995 Leo Burnett, group media director
1996 Leo Burnett, joint media director