THE BOOK OF LISTS: The 10 best media thinkers

1. Jonathan Durden, the chairman of PHD. Many things have been written about Jonathan Durden in recent years. That he's the daddy of clever media thinking. Or the grandfather. Or the Old Testament Patriarch. He is actually the head of the Academy of Strategic Communications Philosophy. A man with the mind of a Socrates and the stature of a Buddha, who worked his way up from prefect to head boy to house master and on into legend. In comparison, the rest are but promising bobs in the lower sixth.

2. Naked

Naked's founders, John Harlow, Will Collin and Jon Wilkins, or most of them at any rate, learned all they know at the feet of Durden. His most promising pupils are now the undisputed stars of a new generation of cleverness.

3. Sue Unerman, the director of strategic solutions, MediaCom

Senior MediaCom sources have been telling people that they reinvented media planning three years ago. They not only reinvented it, they re-christened it Real World Communications. When Socrates was a boy, that sort of thing would have been called hubris and earned a detention.

4. Derek Morris, the chief strategic officer at Publicis

When they join media agencies, brainy types find themselves bumped to the back of the dinner queue with Chinese burns. This has prompted two types of response: to set up on their own as a strategic consultancy, or reattach themselves to a creative agency. Morris has been down both paths, first with Unity and now at Publicis.

5. Gerry Boyle, the managing director of ZenithOptimedia

One method of getting away with being clever is to put on an almost-convincing Scottish accent and pretend you hail from the mean streets of a tough city.

6. Kevin Brown, a partner of Soul

Or you can try telling everyone you have the wild spirit of Irish genius running through your veins. Did we say genius? We meant Guinness, obviously. Brown is the sort of rogue who ends up, despite all odds, being the best sort of prefect in the Academy. Like Morris, he's another planning guru who has re-entered the creative agency world.

7. David Fletcher, the head of Medialab at Mediaedge:cia

Having an extremely dry sense of humour helps too, obviously, but the best way to get away with being a real swot is to cultivate vaguely eccentric hobbies. Fletcher plays the bass trombone. No, honest, he does.

8. Nigel Foote, soon to be the head of Starcom's Intelligence Unit

Which says it all, really. The interesting thing about Foote's appointment is that he joins from a research company, Taylor Nelson, and has a background in all sorts of econometrics modelling. (And the college, it must be remembered, does boast a modelling club.)

9. Nick Manning, the chief executive of Manning Gottlieb OMD

For launching The Source, a spin-off planning brand that wasn't in any way inspired by the success of Naked. At all.

10. And that's it. Except, oh yes ... Each year, we flirt with the notion that we're not going to mention OMD's managing partner, Mark Palmer. No-one really knows why we do this. It's one of those childish college traditions that's lost in the mists of time.

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