But the best way to gain knowledge is through experience, and those who have 'been there and done that' can make blind faith in youth look misplaced. Campaign celebrates the 5.7 per cent of the industry over the age of 50 that are still shaping adland.
TESS ALPS 58
Chief executive, Thinkbox
There is nobody better at banging the drum for TV than Alps. Or doing it more loudly. Despite all the medium's vicissitudes, she has been a relentless evangelist, always seeking out and presenting the most upbeat news about the sector. That is no mean feat, particularly when she has to be constantly conscious of the need to align the interests of her broadcast stakeholders.
"Everyone's mum" is one colleague's description of her. But don't be fooled by her cuddly, fluffy exterior. Beneath it lies a steel core. You wouldn't want to get on the wrong side of her.
ROSIE ARNOLD 50
Deputy executive creative director, Bartle Bogle Hegarty
A glamorous counterbalance to the brutal approach BBH often applies to its pursuit of creative excellence, Arnold now brings her passion for the business to the presidency of D&AD. She has no mean task, as the organisation struggles to sustain the relevance of its awards in the face of the roaring Cannes Lions.
PAUL BAINSFAIR 59
Had things turned out differently, Bainsfair might now have been TBWA's global boss. Some would argue he has an equally formidable challenge at the industry body, not least in convincing the IPA's 246 member agencies that it continues to provide added value as they scrutinise the cost of membership more closely than ever.
JOHN BARTLE 67
Such is Bartle's continued impact on adland, it is hard to believe that 13 years have elapsed since he stepped down from agency management. Bartle has not only been there and done it, but is always ready to share the lessons he has learned along the way. No wonder he is said to have "the wettest shoulders in advertising".
TREVOR BEATTIE 53
Co-founder, Beattie McGuinness Bungay
Mercurial barely begins to describe adland's most famous Brummie. Passing his half-century has in no way diminished his passion for the business and he remains untouched by the creative community's ever-present cynicism.
Why does he remain so committed to what he does after such a long time? The answer seems to lie in an eclectic range of interests far removed from his day job. He is a cricket and boxing fanatic with an encyclopedic knowledge of space travel and has even produced a sci-fi film. And he also helped hundreds of D-Day veterans return to Normandy for the 60th anniversary of the landings.
LORD BELL 70
Chairman, Chime Communications
As probably the most successful PR man in Britain and head of a company in robust health, it is little wonder retirement remains an anathema to Bell. "I give advice," he says. "I can't see myself retiring from that because I'm a nosey, interfering person and it's impossible for me not to keep commenting on things."
NICK BELL 51
Global creative director, DDB
People find much to praise about Bell. Some describe him as smart, articulate and a good team leader. Others also see a relentless drive for perfection that manifests itself in how hard he works as well as him being a tough taskmaster. Having established his creative pedigree at JWT and Leo Burnett, he has added business acumen to his craft skills.
NIGEL BOGLE 64
Group chairman, Bartle Bogle Hegarty
Bogle has had a long wait for the acclaim due to him. Maybe it's because of his shyness and diffident manner. Maybe it has taken him time to flourish since his fellow BBH founders stepped back. What is certain is his relentless commitment. "I get a huge buzz out of what we do well," he says. "It's like a drug."
NICK BRIEN 50
Global chief executive, McCann Worldgroup
Mediocrity doesn't figure in Brien's vocabulary. Inexhaustible and passionate about what he does, he became the UK's most-celebrated media export to the US when he was appointed to run McCann in January 2010. It is a job he undoubtedly deserved. Whether McCann proves deserving of him remains to be seen.
JEREMY BULLMORE 82
Member, WPP advisory board
If there is one constant in an ever-changing, fast-paced communications world, it is the wit and wisdom of Bullmore. It almost beggars belief that somebody who was already creating ads before the launch of commercial TV in Britain should find his views as relevant and respected in the digital age.
His grandfatherly charm conceals a wicked wit and common-sense thinking that is always worth hearing whenever the industry is in danger of disappearing up its own backside. Nobody can prick an inflated ego more elegantly or is better at getting Campaign's readers to laugh and think at the same time.
MARK COLLIER 51
Chairman, EdC Europe
It's onwards and upwards for the immensely likeable Collier. Having seen to it that Dare, which he helped found, would be a digital agency run like a proper business, he went to guide it into a merger with its sister Cosette agency MCBD. His reward is the chairmanship of EdC Europe, formerly Cosette UK.
MARK CRANMER 54
Chief executive, Isobar
When it comes to relaunching a network of more than 60 agencies under the Isobar name, the irascible-but-brilliant Cranmer ticks all the right boxes. His expert knowledge of the wider marketplace is just what the agency world in general - and the digital world in particular - needs.
MARK CRAZE 52
Group chief executive, Havas Media UK
That the Havas-owned media agencies continually punch above their weight in the UK may be due, in no small measure, to the ferociously driven Craze.
Hard, uncompromising and always up for a challenge, he brings a combination of steely business nous and chippy charm to the job he has been doing for the past three years.
And while those who know him say he is a little more relaxed than of old, his passion for winning remains undiminished.
"I'm direct and authoritative, listening and supportive, tough and demanding, warm and cuddly," he says of himself. "Basically, chameleon-like."
TONY CULLINGHAM 54
Programme leader and lecturer, West Herts College
Cullingham is renowned for giving his students the "hairdryer" treatment such as "I don't know why you even bothered turning up", but he is not the best creative tutor in the country for nothing. All his charges get the tough love treatment - but he's immensely supportive of them.
TIM DELANEY 66
Chairman, Leagas Delaney
Delaney is one of the best copywriters of his generation because average doesn't figure in his vocabulary. "Despite his decades in advertising, Delaney is still enthusiastic, adventurous and fiercely uncompromising," a former colleague says. "For Tim, there is right and there is wrong. There is good and there is bad."
MARK DENTON 55
Creative director, Coy! Communications
With his trademark circus-strongman moustache and penchant for flamboyant clothes, Denton looks as if he could give any March hare a good run in the madness stakes.
And when he cites Jordan and Peter Andre as his most inspirational figures, you might seriously wonder whether he has truly lost the plot.
However, there is lot more to Denton than his cartoonish appearance would suggest. Not only has he forged a successful career as a director and production company head, but he has also found time to overhaul the Creative Circle Awards while developing a thoughtful and considerate creative style.
WILLIAM ECCLESHARE 55
Chief executive, Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings
A keen marathon runner, Eccleshare's career path has also been something of a long haul. What's more, there have been some sudden twists and turns along the way. Not only has he run the European operations of Young & Rubicam and BBDO, but he also did a stint as the head of European branding practice at McKinsey. He has been described as "a classic gentleman with brains".
GRAHAM FINK 51
Chief creative officer, Ogilvy China
Fink likes springing surprises, so here is one for him. We have found out he has been fibbing to Campaign about his age, having claimed to have been born in September 1962. However, Debrett's has let the cat out of the bag. The date is actually September 1960.
The upside is that he now qualifies for our "50 over 50". And quite right too for somebody with a reputation as an inspirational creative who doesn't shirk a new challenge. In June last year, he was appointed to oversee creative output at Ogilvy's 17 Chinese offices. "It's like opening a map of a new planet," he says.
NICK GILL 50
Executive creative director, Bartle Bogle Hegarty
The punk album covers that plaster one wall of his office are testament to the iconoclastic philosophy of the holder of one of the most coveted creative jobs in advertising. "Punk remains the most exciting cultural revolution I've ever experienced," he says. "It destroyed everything. It was dangerous and sexy at the same time."
Tellingly, he names his art college tutor as one of his most inspirational influences. "He was 68, but he didn't act like it. He used to come down to London to see The Clash, and was the first person who encouraged me not to be a boring git."
KERRY GLAZER 50
Chief executive, AAR
Glazer continues to manage some of the UK's biggest pitches, albeit that there haven't been as many of them of late. AAR's own figures reveal a 13 per cent drop in pitching activity last year. It is just as well she is good at keeping agency spirits up with her combination of niceness and good industry gossip.
GAY HAINES 62
Partner, Grace Blue
There have not been many big adland vacancies that the industry's grande dame of headhunting hasn't helped fill, such is the trust that Haines commands at senior agency level. A one-time JWT business development director, she believes headhunting and winning new business have plenty in common. "Both require energy, enthusiasm, commitment and a love of people," she says.
SIR JOHN HEGARTY 67
Worldwide creative director, Bartle Bogle Hegarty
Away from his day job as BBH's "creative ambassador", Hegarty enjoys spending time at his vineyard in Languedoc. Indeed, he is something of an exceptional vintage himself, having been the first advertising creative to be knighted, the winner of every advertising award of note and the inspiration behind such iconic campaigns as Levi's "launderette" and Audi's "Vorsprung durch Technik".
His book, Hegarty On Advertising, published last year, is a testament to his unquenched thirst for knowledge. "If you're not learning every day, you're failing," he declares. "You have to be excited about what's going on."
STEVE HENRY 56
He may have been the driving force behind some of the most famous UK campaigns of all time - from the Tango ads to "I bet he drinks Carling Black Label" and Ronseal's "does exactly what it says on the tin" - but Henry isn't much for basking in the evening sunshine.
Advertising cannot have a future, he contends, if it continues living in its past. "He has more innovation in his fingertips than most 30-year-olds," a former colleague says of him. "He's full of restless energy."
Another declares: "He's always interested in the next, not the now."
TAMARA INGRAM 51
Executive vice-president, Grey Global
Ingram's gushing personality might seem at odds with her role running WPP's Procter & Gamble business across some 40 agencies working for the world's biggest advertiser.
But she's clearly comfortable with it as she is with being a Visit London board member. "I'm a Londoner who loves my city," she says.
LEON JAUME 56
Executive creative director, WCRS
A Campaign journalist tasked with writing a profile of Jaume began by imagining he was her new boyfriend meeting her mum for the first time.
"As he dismounted his Ducati, there would be mutterings of 'haven't you grown out of this yet?' as he shook his long hair from his helmet."
Within 30 minutes of his charm offensive, however, Mum would be "dragging me into the kitchen and hissing 'marry him.'"
Almost 15 years on, nothing much has changed. The industry's Peter Pan still oozes youthful energy, much of it directed into getting the best out of his creative teams.
NIGEL JONES 51
Chairman and chief executive, Publicis Group UK
Maurice Levy, the Publicis Groupe boss, once joked that Jones, the head of the Publicis operation in London, had done well enough "to have the stabilisers removed from his bike". Actually, there aren't many more accomplished in the saddle than Jones, who has been described as "frighteningly clever" while remaining one of adland's most interesting people.
JIM KELLY 57
Chief executive, Dentsu Europe
The well-liked Kelly took on a tough challenge in 2010 when he accepted the job of building Dentsu's European operation. And he is about to move things forward significantly by leading the launch of the US hotshop McGarryBowen in the UK through a merger with its sister agency Dentsu London.
DAVID KERSHAW 57
Group chief executive, M&C Saatchi
The youngest of the M&C Saatchi founding partners, Kershaw is also the one most closely involved in the running of the group. He must be doing something right, having just announced a doubling of pre-tax profits to £16 million. He puts his popularity down to "never allowing a one-courser without wine".
TIM LINDSAY 56
Chief executive, D&AD
Lindsay once toyed with opening a wetsuit company in Cornwall between agency jobs. Instead, the cool and debonair charmer has taken the plunge with D&AD. He will need to use all his management skills to ensure that it remains relevant to the ad business, that it continues to be a champion of creative excellence - and that a D&AD Pencil is still an award to die for.
MORAY MACLENNAN 50
Worldwide chief executive, M&C Saatchi
What's not to like about MacLennan? He is smooth and charming, but with a nice line in self-deprecation, and never comes across as a clever Dick despite being unquestionably smart. "I once thought of being a lawyer because I was good at arguing," he says.
He is also a long-serving Saatchi loyalist who has never worked anywhere that didn't have the brothers' name on the door, and was one of the first to follow them out of Charlotte Street and into M&C Saatchi in 1995.
Will his reward be the leadership of his agency when the founding partners decide to cash in their chips? Nothing is impossible.
NICK MANNING 55
Managing director, business development, Ebiquity
Regarded as one of the more cerebral media men, the thoughtful and exacting Manning has a tricky balance to strike at the media auditing company he runs. Nevertheless, he manages to navigate a skilful course when playing the middleman in often fraught agency/client relationships. Away from his day job, one of his more unlikely interests is indie music.
TIM MELLORS 66
Worldwide creative director, Grey Group
The enthusiastic way in which Mellors embraced advertising's hedonistic lifestyle of three decades ago makes you wonder how he's still alive - let alone still enjoying the business as much as ever. Having tried retirement, he now thrives as Grey's self-styled creative "ringmaster". It seems to have given him a new lease of life.
GERRY MOIRA 63
Chairman and director of creativity, Euro RSCG London
Despite the number of miles on his clock, Moira shows no sign of running out of road. He remains one of the most talented writers in the business and still pens the industry's best Private Views.
And, just as the Cannes Festival would not be the same without an al-fresco lunch table with the host Moira performing at his witty and charming best, so it would be hard to imagine a UK ad scene without his comic and astute observations on it.
Meanwhile, his interest in the latest bands and the newest films suggests he has a way to go.
JOHN O'KEEFFE 50
Worldwide creative director, WPP
Industry eyebrows were raised three years ago when O'Keeffe quit as the creative chief at BBH to become a pivotal player in WPP's mission to add creative potency to its reputation for shrewd financial management. But the move seems to be paying off nicely, with WPP being named Holding Company of the Year at last year's Cannes Lions.
MT RAINEY 56
Despite honing her reputation as a planner and agency manager, Rainey went on to earn her spurs as an astute businesswoman. She helped found Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe and was a key player in its £27 million sale to WPP in 1999. She went on to launch Horsesmouth, an online social network for informal mentoring.
RUSSELL RAMSEY 51
Executive creative director, JWT
It has been a remarkable journey for the quiet man from South Shields - he's very proud of his working-class roots - to being acclaimed as one of the best art directors in London and the creative chief of one of its most famous agencies. He recognises that creative integrity and commercial realities are not mutually exclusive.
MARK ROALFE 52
Chairman, Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R
As somebody who likes keeping a low profile and letting his work do the talking, it can't have been easy for Roalfe having to steady the ship after the exit of two senior management teams in recent years.
Not that he has ever been one to lose his cool. Instead, he is much liked for his humble and friendly demeanour and his dedication to ensuring that the agency's creative product is constantly improving. What's more, he remains pivotal to its key clients such as Virgin Atlantic and Marks & Spencer. His peers describe him as an "all-time classic".
KEVIN ROBERTS 62
Worldwide chief executive, Saatchi & Saatchi
Is there a big challenge still left in Roberts? The fact that he has been running the Saatchi network for 15 years belies the fact that he has always been a restless manager with a flair for the unexpected. As the chief executive of Pepsi Canada, he famously fired up staff by machine-gunning a Coke vending machine.
ANDREW ROBERTSON 51
President and chief executive, BBDO Worldwide
The fact that BBDO has been named Campaign's Advertising Network of the Year for the fourth time in six years will not have done Robertson's candidacy to succeed John Wren as boss of BBDO's Omnicom parent any harm at all. "Nothing is an accident, nothing is unplanned," a friend says of his fast-moving over-achievement.
KATE ROBERTSON 56
UK group chairman, Euro RSCG
It is always hard to get a word in edgeways with the touchy-feely Robertson, such is her passion for everything she does. She has formed a high-profile double act with her boss, David Jones, at the One Young World charity, a global forum to help shape future leaders.
LORD SAATCHI 65
Founding partner, M&C Saatchi
Say what you like about Saatchi (and there are lots of people that do), nobody can question his pivotal role in changing the way the UK ad industry conducted its business for all time and extended its influence on to the global stage.
In addition, he demonstrated astonishing resilience in starting over after being ousted from Saatchi & Saatchi in the biggest bust-up in advertising history.
Today, his current agency sits 14 places above his old one in the Campaign billings rankings. Meanwhile, he has carved out a fresh profile among the upper echelons of the Conservative Party. Sweet revenge? Only he knows.
CHRIS SATTERTHWAITE 56
Chief executive, Chime Communications
The reason Satterthwaite has never sought a profile is that he is happiest behind the scenes at Chime. Self-assured, consistent and calm, he is known as a consensus manager with unswerving loyalty both to Chime and its clients. Outside work, he is a student of apiology - the study of bees.
CILLA SNOWBALL 53
Group chief executive and group chairman, Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO
Snowball is a beacon of hope and inspiration to all those talented women who must have despaired of ever joining the men who occupy more than 86 per cent of the chief executive and managing director jobs at Britain's agencies.
She not only heads the biggest and - arguably - the most successful UK agency group ever, but also runs the show without losing her femininity or warmth.
But do not let her motherliness deceive you into believing she is a soft touch. She has always been willing and able to make the tough calls.
SIR MARTIN SORRELL 67
Chief executive, WPP
Nobody has shaped today's global marcoms industry more profoundly than Sorrell, having taken a cottage industry and winning it the respect of the world's business and investment communities - so much so that his soothsaying is something the money men always take seriously. He shows no sign of slowing down - and still leads the WPP cricket team.
STEVIE SPRING 54
Former group chief executive, Future
Having been an agency manager as well as an outdoor media owner and the boss of a publishing company, Spring is an outstanding example of an adlander who has successfully applied their talents in the wider commercial world.
Her exit from Future last year was a bolt from the blue. However, nobody expects her high spirits to be absent from the scene for long. Of her role as the non-executive chairman of BBC Children In Need, she says: "It helps you do your own job better because you have been exposed to a different set of experiences. But it also makes you realise how privileged you are."
JONATHAN STEAD 51
Chief executive, Rapier
Stead's quiet manner belies his high-energy out-of-office activities that suggest he would really like to be an all-action hero. If he isn't pounding the treadmill daily or embarking on ten-mile runs, he is enjoying some off-piste extreme skiing. His business challenge is no less daunting, as he leads Rapier's evolvement from direct marketing specialist to credible integrated agency.
DAVE TROTT 64
Creative director, CST The Gate
Trott has come to embody one of the most famous advertising lines he ever created: "Ariston and on and on."
One of the industry's most prolific bloggers, he brushes aside any suggestion that he is in the autumn of his career. And there has never been any shortage of creative tyros willing to walk across hot coals to learn at his feet.
"He taught me how to think about advertising," one of a generation of creatives that was profoundly influenced by him says. "He grinds it out of you to get to the essence of the issue."
MARK TUTSSEL 53
Global chief creative officer, Leo Burnett
While fortunes have been mixed for British creatives eager to make their mark across the Atlantic, Tutssel has fared better than most - with the network invariably figuring prominently in The Gunn Report rankings. He retains an eagerness for what he does despite having spent more than two decades at Leo Burnett.
PAUL WEILAND 58
Film director, Weilands
From Fiat's "hand-built by robots" spot to the iconic "points of view" commercial for The Guardian, Weiland's work has defined the best TV advertising in Britain. Throw in his movie directing as well and it adds up to a remarkable career for a man whose ferocious ambition compensated for him leaving school without an O-level to his name.
ROBIN WIGHT 67
When WCRS hit a bad patch a while back, Campaign had the audacity to ask its founding partner if he was finished. "Finished?" he roared. "I've hardly started."
It was a typical Wight response. While his taste for brightly coloured suits suggests he is just a throwback to advertising's flamboyant bygone age, his mind continues to fizz with ideas that belie his years.
Whether he is helping to raise millions of pounds for the Duke of Edinburgh's Award scheme or launching the Ideas Foundation, a charity that champions creativity, Wight inspires through the sheer force of his energy. And his love for advertising is as ardent as ever.
Adland's "50 over 50" was compiled by high50, an online community launched by the ad agency Beta for people 50 years old and over.
For more information, visit www.high50.com