This year's theme in media buying appears to be the emergence of great double acts, with many buyers seemingly unable to separate themselves from a hand-holding and supportive colleague. With Starcom and ZenithOptimedia finally sorting themselves out to create the joint Publicis trading arm VivaKi Trading UK, we saw the arrival of a new double act that has an oddball, bickering quality to rival Tony Hancock and Sid James, combined with the touch of class once provided by Waddle and Hoddle on the football pitch. Tough negotiators, Locke and Hayward are both hoping to make an impact now that they are trading together. It remains to be seen if they can change the model.
2. John Overend and Marc Bignell, joint managing directors, OPera
The original group trading double act, Overend and Bignell came together as a marriage of necessity as both PHD and OMD wanted equal representation in fronting Omnicom negotiations. Five years on, the pair are attracting admiring comments from media owners impressed by an apparently fair and balanced approach combined with their muscle in the market.
3. Mark Collins and Steve Goodman, broadcast trading and print trading managing directors, Group M
As the pair with the greatest clout in the UK media market, Collins and Goodman are certainly capable of packing a strong punch. The two might not be as openly abrasive as some of their rivals at other networks and Collins especially maintains a deliberately low profile, but they have won considerable respect among the sales points that they negotiate with and Goodman, in particular, contributes a great deal of his time to important industry initiatives.
4. Steve Platt, trading director, Aegis Media
Unusually among those who lead the big group buying points, Platt hunts alone as the sole head of the Aegis UK trading arm. His style may only appeal to some among the broadcasters and he might display a certain old-fashioned way of approaching things, but Platt is still to be feared and respected. And he's increasingly backed by a strong, young Aegis pack who, unlike their boss, often do hunt in pairs.
5. Azon Howie and Dominic Williams, broadcast and press director, Carat
Foremost among these pairings are this senior duo from Carat, who head the agency's broadcast and press negotiations respectively. Both talented and pugnacious, they combine Platt's occasional belligerence with a sense that they are passionate about their subject and really enjoy what they're doing. But then, you would expect nothing less from an agency with Carat's bullish reputation.
6. Steve Bignell and Claudine Collins, heads of trading, MediaCom
Another recently created double act, Bignell and Collins now jointly lead MediaCom's reshaped trading unit. Bignell, brother of OPera's Marc, is at home in the broadcast world while the glamorous Collins has a background in print and is well connected in the glossy magazine market. However, both are using their skills to increasingly broad effect under new management at MediaCom.
7. Andy Zonfrillo and Paul Thomas, investment directors, Mindshare
Tall, bald and talented, both Zonfrillo and Thomas bring years of experience and knowledge of media owner secrets to their roles at Mindshare. Zonfrillo is well up to speed on the minutiae of the TV market while Thomas' presence in the press market is a valuable asset to the agency.
8. Neil Johnston and Chris Amor, head of TV and head of press, OMD UK
A charming and tenacious pair who lead OMD's seasoned team of buyers. Johnston is at the more relatively intellectual end of the television buying community, while Amor's willingness to do his bit for clients ascended new heights this year when he won the BBC Magazines Strictly Come Dancing "Agency Dance Challenge". Some felt the comparisons with Willie Thorne were harsh but there are still no signs that Johnston intends to pair with Amor for any future dance-offs.
9. Mark Gallagher, executive director, Manning Gottlieb OMD
Gallagher has added responsibility for Manning Gottlieb OMD's 40-strong online buying department to his leadership of press buying and is proving more than up to the challenge as the agency has expanded its online buying to clients including Apple.
10. Richard Oliver, managing partner and head of investment, Universal McCann
Oliver, steadily becoming a Universal McCann veteran as he climbs the management rungs at the Interpublic agency, has an impeccable background in broadcast media and is expanding his expertise across other media.