Advertising, as Peter Mayle once said, attracts some funny
There are a fair proportion of semi-competent dullards "who should have
taken up their natural places in the undemanding obscurity of the civil
service", but this is also a business reeling with real talent.
Mayle ponders if we were able to create the perfect adman, what would we
find. A shameless extrovert with a conversational style somewhere
between the TV chatshow host and the bedside manner of the family
doctor. Someone who can get his foot in the door, even over the
telephone, immune from rebuff, eternally self-confident and an immediate
enthusiast. Resilience and perseverance are also prime qualities in the
Mayle brief, which explains why some of those who rise to the top in
this business do so without trace.
But any attempt to prescribe the requirements for success in advertising
is as futile as it is subjective, which is why our feature on page 22
this week, The Brainy Bunch, contains such a motley collection of
otherwise unrelated adfolk.
The theme that strings them together is their success in shaping the
face of the advertising industry, setting standards which others take as
their benchmark and challenging advertising conventions. Of course, this
has nothing to do with conventional intelligence, which might even prove
a hindrance. Rather it is an indefinable ability to relate to people
(colleagues, clients, consumers) in a way that builds tangible
relationships and cuts through the pomposities and bullshit that so
often cloud advertising thinking.
You might feel we've overlooked people in compiling our two lists, The
Gurus and The "Young" Pretenders, but I think there will be few who will
argue with the names we've chosen to include.
It's ironic, though, that we're championing advertising's finest in the
week that we're also picking over the bones of Cannes (see Diary for the
most tasteless bits). Cannes still falls short of providing a showcase
for advertising's finest.
Take the relentless success of the Brazilians, who were up and down on
the podium more often than your average pole dancer. Still, in the midst
of partizanship, scam advertising and the uneven playing field created
by the different regional advertising regulations, it's great to see Leo
Burnett London walking away with its own well-deserved cache of
The agency snaffled more golds than any other, despite the fact that the
delicious John West "bear" slot lost out to Cliff Freeman's Fox Sports
ads for the Grand Prix.
Outside the awards hall, and undaunted by talk of downturn and
redundancy, this year's Cannes seems to have been as excessive as any
other. God help the marketing services sector when they are embraced to
Cannes' wrinkled chocolate decollete next year - how many shady corners
are there on le Croisette for non-creative types to lurk in?
Caroline Marshall is away.