Close-Up: Newsmaker - AMV's quiet man will let his work do the talking

But Brazier will need to cultivate a more outgoing persona to accompany his undoubted creative talent, Noel Bussey writes.

Paul Brazier has a lot on his plate at present. And its not just his new job as the executive creative director of Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO.

Just under a fortnight after becoming a dad for the second time, he has to get to grips with another role. Like fatherhood, there's pressure, excitement and months of hard work ahead. What's more, the pressures are compounded by landing arguably the biggest creative job in London.

The job means having to fill some big shoes. They formerly belonged to Peter Souter, for eight years, and to David Abbott before that.

Brazier does seem to be taking all of this in his stride, though, and is riding a wave of good fortune at the moment. Only six days after stepping into the executive creative director position at AMV, his second child, Jude, was born. Three days after that, AMV retained the £47 million Sainsbury's creative account.

"I really should buy a lottery ticket as well," he says, "as this really seems to be my week, although it is a little tiring. But I've been flattered by everyone's reaction and flattered to be offered the job."

Being only the third creative director in AMV's 27-year history adds pressure to the job, which is compounded by the agency's need to improve its creative output. Many think it has dropped since Abbott headed out of the door, the door which still boasts his name.

"There is definitely a lot of pressure in the role, but I think it's like vertigo. If you look down, you realise it's a bloody long way to fall. You have to be dedicated and keep going upwards, and that's what I intend to do in the job."

However, when he is pushed on the specifics of his plans for driving the agency forward, Brazier is non-committal. "I don't have plans; I set goals," he says. But he is also reticent regarding what these goals are. "Whatever you can imagine for an agency of this size, then they are the goals I will be setting myself."

Sarah Ramzan Golant, AMV's chief executive, is convinced Brazier is perfect for the role, however, and can adapt to the added responsibility while driving the agency forward. "I'm not going to say I didn't look outside of AMV. I wanted the best creative in London. I just realised that I already had him on my payroll," she says.

Brazier will be replacing Souter, who has taken a position on the BBDO board after eight years as AMV's executive creative director. However, he will still be involved with the agency and will be available to advise Brazier. "Souter will be supporting Brazier when needed," Ramzan Golant says. "He's going to act like more of a mentor, but because of his responsibilities to the board, he will be too busy to run the department."

Brazier adds: "Peter was instrumental in my appointment and it's good to know he'll be just down the corridor from me and I know he'll give me support."

Even though the position of AMV's executive creative director is highly regarded, the job will not be easy for Brazier because the past year has been a tempestuous one for the agency, both in terms of work and management churn. A new order has been settled in at the top of the tree and a lot of energy has been expended on repitching for existing business.

In November last year, Michael Baulk stepped aside from his role as the agency's chairman in a restructure that allowed Cilla Snowball, who has recently joined the BBDO board, to take over and Ramzan Golant to replace her as AMV's chief executive.

The Sainsbury's pitch took a lot of time and effort, as did the Homebase review, and the loss of the Pizza Hut business had a huge effect. It is also generally thought the agency reached a low creative ebb with its Camelot ads. It also failed to come close to replicating the success of Guinness "surfer" with the Anthony Minghella-directed commercial "rodeo".

"Things go in cycles in this industry," Ramzan-Golant says. "You cannot be at the very top of your game all the time. You have winning streaks and periods of consolidation. It hasn't been a lack of talent that has affected us, but a set of circumstances. Repitching takes up a lot of time and energy."

The Sainsbury's decision and Brazier's appointment could be seen as starting points for a return to form for the agency. But with the company finding out this week that it will have to repitch for much of its BT business, there is still a long way to go before AMV regains the high ground it once occupied.

One industry commentator feels that the impetus for a reversal of the agency's fortunes needs to come from Ramzan Golant. "She needs to recreate the agency, it's down to her. Brazier will ultimately do what she tells him to," he says.

Brazier, a self-confessed ideas man, has an undeniably first-class CV, which includes executions such as Dulux "colour match" and The Economist "shredder", work that has won him fans on both the agency and client side.

"Brazier might be one of the quieter guys of advertising, but he produces consistently great work and cares massively about it," Tony Davidson, the creative director of Wieden & Kennedy, says.

Ajay Kavan, the Homebase marketing director, adds: "Brazier is one of the most down-to-earth, talented creatives I have ever worked with. He's practical and passionate and he doesn't live in arty-farty land."

But by his own admission, Brazier is an "inward-facing employee" who will need to learn how to build a persona outside of his creative talent, just as Souter had to before him. "It's a good idea for me to do that, to build a higher public perception, and something I am going to do," Brazier says.

However, Paul Briginshaw, the creative partner at Miles Calcraft Briginshaw Duffy, who worked with Brazier for seven years during his time at AMV, believes Brazier has the skills required to more than satisfy the role of running the creative department of the country's biggest agency.

"He's more than capable of turning round AMV's creative slump," Briginshaw says. "He has the ear of the client, which will be vital in this role. Plus, he's a straight talker with no bullshit, which clients are looking for more and more these days. He's not afraid to tell clients bad news."

Brazier's pedigree as a creative is not in doubt, but a creative department and all the issues it throws at its leader can make it a very different animal to control. But if AMV is as faithful to him as it was to his predecessor, Souter, and if Brazier keeps coming up with the ads, he will have plenty of time to learn.


Age 42

Lives: Highbury, London

Family: Wife, Diane, and two children: Eva, three, and Jude, two weeks

Favourite ad: Guinness "surfer", The Guardian "points of view", Honda


Describe yourself in three words: I like breaking rules

Greatest extravagance: My children

Most admired agency: Wieden & Kennedy

Living person you most admire: My wife - beautiful, witty, patient,

talented. Thierry Henry is all right, too

Motto: Perseverance prevails