Close-Up: Backroom heroes keeping agencies on track

Backroom grafters can be worth just as much to ad agencies as their creative supremos. Here, Campaign salutes a few of them.


Name: Colin Fleming

Job title: Financial director, Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO

Favourite ad: Walkers "Tara Palmer-Tomkinson"

You don't need to be a high-achieving accountant to realise that 30 is an exceptionally young age for someone to be made the financial director of the UK's biggest creative agency. But, then again, professing a love of ads might help. Despite claiming that his favourite Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO work is the Gary Lineker and Tara Palmer-Tomkinson Walkers ad, Colin Fleming also claims he loves advertising.

A proclamation that is enthusiastically reiterated by Farah Ramzan Golant, the chief executive at AMV, who says that "Colin lives and breathes the work" and understands the industry like a seasoned pro.

"You wouldn't think he's an accountant first and an adman second. He is always on the side of investing in the creative. Whenever Paul (Brazier, the executive creative director) says he needs another team, Colin will work out how to do it - he doesn't just say no."

He also has a bit of a reputation for being a lad. After chairing his first IPA meeting he enforced a tradition that he had started the previous year at AMV where he wouldn't let anybody leave his meeting until they had all drunk a shot of Guinness (he is Irish, after all) - a tradition that obviously stands him in good stead in adland.


Name: John Taylor

Job title: Director of client service worldwide, ZenithOptimedia

Favourite ad: Puma "spider shell" (Asia)

Across a media career spanning more than 30 years, Taylor has built a reputation as a top-flight client man. He is currently responsible for heading ZenithOptimedia's global relationships with clients and is especially close to L'Oreal and Nestle, having run the new-business pitches that helped to win them.

Taylor is renowned as an indispensable troubleshooter who can hop on a plane on behalf of the network and its chief executive, Steve King, to resolve tricky situations. He has also helped the network evolve its product offering in various developing markets.

Despite occupying some big UK jobs (he launched Optimedia in the UK as its first managing director), Taylor remains relatively low profile outside the agency because of his international focus.

This isn't any reflection on his character or importance, though. Colleagues say Taylor is outgoing and has an easy charm, an asset to any top-level client handler. Behind this lurks an energetic talent that finds an outlet beyond work in Taylor's fondness for taking part in extreme endurance events. He's the chairman of his local triathlon club and recently completed the UK Ironman challenge in 12.5 hours. "It was a good time - I was in the top 25 per cent," Taylor says proudly.


Name: Mark Cramphorn

Job title: General manager, TBWA UK Group

Favourite ad: Adidas "break-up service"

Tim Lindsay, the president of the TBWA UK & Ireland Group, likens Mark Cramphorn, the general manager, to the footballer Claude Makelele (for those who don't know, he's a tenacious, hard-tackling midfield general who quietly runs the game and the team).

"It's the best way to describe him. Look at how little Real Madrid has won since he left the club - that's exactly what would happen to us if Mark left," Lindsay says.

Cramphorn's role at the agency is part-Mr Fix It and part-internal general.

Wherever there is a problem that needs sorting out or an inefficient process that needs the inefficiency knocking out of it, Cramphorn is the man who is relied upon to do it.

"He's so intuitive he manages to intervene in things before they even become a problem. He specialises in handling tricky parts of the business," Lindsay adds.

He is also a dab hand at keeping the creative and commercial sides of the business running smoothly. "I have a good understanding of both, because I actually went to art school before I moved to the business side," Cramphorn explains.

Lindsay continues: "He is the classic sweeper-up. The guy who does all the things that chief executives, managing directors and executive creative directors are too stupid, lazy or incompetent to do. Which is a lot."

Even without such high praise, it is clear Lindsay has nothing but respect and faith in his right-hand man - after all, he has hired him at Y&R, Publicis and TBWA, every agency he has run.

The two men met at Bartle Bogle Hegarty, where Cramphorn was the head of traffic at the fledgling agency. "We were about ten people and I created the agency's operational and delivery processes that are still in place today."

In an odd twist, following Cramphorn's departure, a certain Jon Peppiatt (see above) took over that area of the business and became an unsung hero himself.


Name: Jon Peppiatt

Job title: Deputy chairman, Bartle Bogle Hegarty

Favourite ad: Lynx "getting dressed"

If you are under the impression that there are only two famous Johns in Bartle Bogle Hegarty's Kingly Street offices, you are wrong.

Jon Peppiatt gets just as much respect and love from the black sheep as the names above the door - and when he was appointed as the deputy chairman last year it was widely regarded as a long overdue move. If you were looking for a football analogy, Peppiatt, or Pepp, as he's affectionately known, is the epitome of backroom staff - the Peter Taylor to Brian Clough or the Mike Phelan to Sir Alex Ferguson.

He joined BBH in 1995 as a project manager (after starting his career in the postroom at CDP) and by dint of holding positions such as being the head of international creative services, resource director and head of project management, knows everybody at the agency - including most of the foreign offices.

In his words, his job is to "put oil on the cogs of the machine" and he strives to prove that an agency such as BBH can "be a well-run business without forfeiting creativity".

Despite being famous inside the agency walls, and having once starred in a McEwan's Export ad in the late '80s, he has a strong sense of modesty: "When I heard about the piece I thought, 'Noel (Bussey, our writer), you fucker'," he says.

"Pepp has always been the guy behind the guy," Ben Fennell, the chief executive, says. "His very considerable skills have always been focused on paving the way for others. Never in the spotlight, always in the shadows. Supporting, facilitating, sounding out."

Smiling, Fennell adds: "He will hate this article."

However, it is also a two-way love affair between the man and the agency. Fennell notes: "After cricket, racing and smoking, BBH is pretty much Pepp's favourite thing."