DIARY: Our own living legend John Tylee celebrates 18th year at Campaign

Normally, we dedicate the lead Diary story to the shenanigans of a Garry Lace, Trevor Beattie or Robin Wight. This week, however, we'd like shamelessly to celebrate one of our own.

Because this week, everybody's favourite cigar-smoking bon viveur, John Tylee, celebrates his 18th year at Campaign.

To begin John's story, we have to go way back. Back to a time when the most famous Blair in the country was Lionel. Back to a time when Jordan was just a struggling Middle-Eastern country, awaiting its first boob job. Back to a purer, more innocent age, when ad men were money-waving chancers with big red glasses and strange ideas.

For it was then that Tylee, having mastered his craft on the Enfield Gazette, stumbled out of the Royal Mail press office and into Campaign HQ, where he proceeded to pass judgment on the "follow the bear" and "for mash get Smash" ads of the day.

Within months of his arrival, Tylee had already become an advertising institution. His gentle charm and everyman patter proved a big hit with agencies and soon earned him the inevitable "ladies man" accolade.

Rumour has it that David Abbott was so impressed with the young Tylee's knowledge that he nearly changed the name of his agency to AMVT. However, the recession of the early 90s ensured that Saatchi, Tylee & Saatchi and Partners JT closed within a month.

Perhaps the most illustrious moment of this distinguished career came in 1999, when Tylee turned down a knighthood. When asked why, he merely said: "Dear boy, the name John Tylee carries enough class and prestige as it is. To add 'Sir' would be greedy."

A staunch purist, Tylee has shunned the trappings of modern journalists such as e-mail and the internet, relying instead on traditional methods of gathering information, such as bribing shoeshine boys and steaming open other people's post. His refusal to touch-type has earned him a reputation as the man with the most talented forefinger in the business.

And now, after 18 years, Tylee shows no sign of slowing down. He can still be found puffing his Cafe Creme in The Ivy or Nobu and his weekends working on fine-tuning his soon-to-be-published memoirs, which will be entitled simply I've Seen More Ads Than You've Had Hot Dinners, Sonny!

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you John Tylee. May his next 18 years be every bit as spectacular.


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