PERSPECTIVE: Falling value of the Seymour in today's straitened industry

By Caroline Marshall, caroline.marshall@haynet.com, campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 01 August 2003 12:00AM

You'd need a heart of stone not to feel some sympathy for Geoff Seymour this week. He's the first subject in our new series tracking down the industry's stars of previous generations.

Ars longa, vita brevis according to Hippocrates, but it's turned out to be Vita longa, ars brevis in Seymour's case. He was the original creative show pony - the first copywriter to break the six-figure salary barrier, hired by Saatchi & Saatchi in 1982 to show the world that it was sparing no expense in the servicing of its newly acquired British Airways account.

Would any creative these days be given such an obvious chance to own a client?

For a time, his name was used in advertising circles as a unit of currency: a Seymour being equal to £100,000. But Seymour hated Saatchis and soon returned to Frank Lowe and his spiritual home. These days, having tried directing and battled ill health, Seymour observes the industry from a lonely perspective. I hope some old friends will be encouraged to contact him after reading John Tylee's piece (p17).

Still, advertising doesn't eat up and spit out all its stars. Two start-ups this week bear witness to the extraordinary resilience of media achievers. One of the new ventures controversially signposts a changed communications environment; the other's more accessible and, I predict, will become an influential player in the industry.

The controversial one first. Mike Yershon, a founder of Carat and a former executive media director of McCann-Erickson, has re-emerged with his own media auditing company. Using Barb data, Yershon Media Assessment will check the invoice sent by the agency to the client against its register of transmitted media spots. Clients, one imagines, will welcome this with open arms. See next week's Media Forum for the variety of ways media agencies would like to shake Yershon warmly by the throat.

Leaving aside the issue of the name of one of his partners (Ditlev Schwanenflugel, whoever you are, you made my spellcheck explode) Chris Ingram's is the accessible start-up. He's launching a consultancy that will marry business wisdom with advertising and marketing nous. Cynical advertising eyes will roll skywards at the news, claiming Ingram's tried it before with the Fusion 5/Added Value partnership, but he's not claiming a first.

As the business has become more structured, more governed by corporate jockeying than by ideas, working in advertising threatens to become exactly like working in any other business peddling an international commodity.

A ghastly prospect indeed, but well and truly countered by these two start-ups which show that advertising has not lost its appeal for the talented individualist.

This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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