The Annual 2006: Top 10 media buyers

1. PAUL THOMAS, managing partner, MindShare

Sales directors welcome the way in which Thomas is maturing. He was a "typically blokey buyer" - all matey when it suited him, yet all too happy to be aggressive and confrontational. But he has adapted well to the rapidly evolving media structures in WPP.

2. CLAUDINE COLLINS, head of press, MediaCom

One of the industry's most celebrated larger-than-life characters, "Princess" Claudine is no pushover. She can be unashamedly direct when it suits her, but she is also one of the most subtle negotiators around.

3. CHRIS HAYWARD, head of investment, ZenithOptimedia

A man of many parts. If you insist on having the "Scally with the bubble perm and the penchant for other people's hubcaps", he'll oblige. If he thinks you need shouting at, he'll give you as much tough talking as you need. But for those who respond to a more clever approach, he's more than capable of going down that route, too.

4. DOMINIC WILLIAMS, head of press, Carat

For years, Williams has been overshadowed by a number of powerful figures in Carat, but, recently, he has grown into his new role. He has been aided by the group trading boss, Steve Platt, who has helped him develop a "new dimension" in his approach to negotiation.

5. MARK GALLAGHER, press director, Manning Gottlieb OMD

There was a time when Gallagher was thought to be something of a "talk-first-think-later rent-a-quoter", but even his peers are now realising he talks good sense - and that he's got uncanny instincts about how the publishing business is likely to evolve.

6. JONATHAN BARROWMAN, head of radio, Initiative

Given the nature of the commercial radio beast, it's all too easy to begin trading the medium as if it were a commodity business. So the industry has real respect not only for Barrowman's love of the medium, but also for his depth of knowledge.

7. NEIL JOHNSTON, head of television, OMD UK

TV sales bosses have always believed Johnston would continue to make his mark. Beneath the boyish charm, there is a hard edge. And though his passion for the business sometimes makes him seem overly opinionated, he always succeeds in balancing that with a pragmatic and rational take on deal-making.

8. CHRIS LOCKE, group trading director, Starcom UK

Many feel that Locke's act is wearing a bit thin. For years, he's been a connoisseur of the good things in life - fine wines, good food and modern art. Yet he continues to try to pass himself off as the last of the "barrow boy" generation of TV time-buying geezers - abrasive, foul-mouthed and 'ow's yer father and all that. Leave it out.

9. STEVE PLATT, head of media, Aegis Media

While many other media agency groups have been trying to stir up publicity for their shiny new group negotiation structures, Aegis has been getting on with building the reality under Platt. In the old days, people suspected that Platty dominated sales director top tens because of his largesse with Champions League tickets. There's no suspicion of that now that Platty has crossed on to the buying side at Aegis, with its corporate level seats at The Emirates Stadium.

10. CHRIS AMOR, head of press, OMD

Amor learned his craft at the feet of the legendary Tim McCloskey. Liked by media owners, he can be a tough negotiator when he needs to be.


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