LIFESTYLE: HOW TO LIVE THE GOOD LIFE - From the shared flat in Fulham and rows over the washing up, to growing vegetables and regaling Hampshire pals with tales of the glory days, Damian Lanigan charts the hard struggle adfolk face when it comes to findin

Dicky Beesley, Viz’s upstart adman, was just so 80s. The red glasses, Filofax, braces and ponytail, were an amalgam of forex dealer and TV producer from the adrenaline-rush days of the Lawson boom. No-one in adland actually dressed like that but, as far the media and the public were concerned, Dicky was the face of the industry.

Dicky Beesley, Viz’s upstart adman, was just so 80s. The red

glasses, Filofax, braces and ponytail, were an amalgam of forex dealer

and TV producer from the adrenaline-rush days of the Lawson boom. No-one

in adland actually dressed like that but, as far the media and the

public were concerned, Dicky was the face of the industry.

There was something very 80s about his personality. Brash,

unembarrassable and terminally perky, this was someone who hadn’t been

run over by a recession.

Beesley is unimaginable at the end of the 90s. If you ask people what an

adman looks like today, no clear image is forthcoming. Equally, if you

ask people about an adman’s personality, you are met with more blank


There are several reasons why no vivid picture remains. First, no-one’s

interested any more. In the 80s, the overstated role of the Saatchis in

the Thatcher project made Adman newsworthy. He was characterised as a

subtle, manipulative demon, not content with selling us Corn Flakes, but

wanting to sell us political ideology as well. Now, political

advertising is merely part of the furniture - is as intrinsic to the

electioneering process as kissing babies and pensioner-stroking.

Somebody’s got to do it.

Second, the ad industry has made itself look more tedious. They all want

to be McKinsey. Spooks in horn-rims grinding on about added value don’t

make the features pages of national newspapers.

Third, adland has grown up as it has slimmed down. The client-inspired

drive for commercial accountability and cost control has turned agencies

into leaner, harder-working places. The industry lost one in four

employees during and after the last recession and, although times are

good again for many, it seems judicious to keep one’s head down.

What this all means is that Adman has begun to merge with the


Everybody’s in marketing of some form or other nowadays and, for the

most part, they look the same as they head home through the jams of West

London; another 3-Series, another set of French cuffs, another mobile

phone. But, look again, and you may find an adman trying a little harder

than most to assert individuality. ’I’m cutting edge, I’m 90s, I’m

creative, for God’s sake.’

Finally, Adman is moving with the times. On the back seat of that 3

Series is a Jeep Cherokee brochure and, perhaps more tellingly, a baby



Babies are the perfect adman’s status symbol. A big, pink, noisy baby is

proof to the world that you have actually managed to create something in

your life. Alan Causey, the executive vice-president, managing director,

social analysis and forecast, at Ammirati Puris Lintas, New York, points

out that in a recent survey in the US, people were asked about the ways

in which they expressed their creativity; ’bringing up children’ came

fourth. What kind of generation will emerge as a result of 2,000 ad

people taking out their creative frustrations on their kids?

The other consequence of the vogue for sprogging is that your colleagues

suffer. Meetings are moved to ridiculously early times because New Dad

can’t get back to sleep after the 3am change. He’s also going home

earlier nowadays, increasing the workload of his underlings.

This sort of behaviour is, inevitably, causing conflict with the current

wave of hedonism growing in the agency world’s lower ranks, and there is

also an unseemly resentment about maternity leave. In the still white,

male-dominated macho world of advertising, any excuse to start flinging

a bit of sexism around is to be welcomed.


As in every major financial centre, admen are priced out of the most

desirable areas. Square Mile ultra-money keeps Zone One out of bounds,

just as in New York you’re more likely to find adfolk in New Jersey and

Brooklyn than the Upper East Side. In London, the advertising property

ladder works something like this:

Years 1-3 Shared flat in Fulham: washing-up rotas, big sister’s cast-off

sofas, Matisse and Oasis posters, stale milk, stolen taramasalata.

Years 3-5 Buy small flat in Battersea with childhood sweetheart: Ikea is

breaking out all over - kilims, anglepoises, flexible shelving units, an

pounds 85 armchair called ’Fanni’.

Years 5-7 Start relationship with account manager, move back into shared

accommodation in Baron’s Court. Lose interest in interior


Eat out and get pissed four times a week. Second childhood comes


Years 7-10 Marry said account manager and move into farcically

overpriced two-bed cottage in Putney. Ikea a total no-no; lust after

Conran Shop but settle for Habitat with a bit of Heal’s where it


Years 11-15 Little Harriet and even littler Marcus force you out of

cottage into three-bed Victorian terrace in Clapham. Two hundred and

fifty grand well spent. Pampers absorb a variety of substances,

particularly the money earmarked for soft furnishings.

Years 16-20 Move into five-bedroom family home in ’Barnes’ (commonly

known to the rest of humanity as the arse end of East Sheen). The other

half has her own small business: patisserie, kids’ clothes shop, that

sort of thing. Aren’t private schools expensive?

After that, choices; if divorced, cosy lovenest in Swiss Cottage: if you

last the marriage out, maybe move to stockbroker belt and get into golf.

Retire to rural Hampshire and grow asparagus.


All over South-east London, thirtysomething adpeople are choking the

roads with Discoveries, Explorers and Cherokees. Why wrap yourself in

two tons of bull-bar, foglamp and roof-rack? It might be to do with


There’s something reassuring about driving around in an armoured

personnel carrier. With all the frayed nerves knocking around agencies,

it’s nice to travel home in a vehicle more secure than a Popemobile.

Causey also thinks it’s something to do with the spirit of the age:

’This is the era of being yourself - you’re alone out there and these

cars are survival equipment, reminding you that you are ’of the Earth’

and offering you protection.’

The other automotive trend is in the opposite direction: MGFs. Adpeople

have always shared their taste in cars with hairdressers, and the vogue

for Rover’s little drophead is further evidence. The ultimate motivation

is similar to the one that makes people want 4x4s: dreams of escape.

Another ad blown out in Staines/Hemel/Croydon? Put on the Lighthouse

Family and forget it until you’re back in W1.


Mobile phones The only area of life where grown men sit around bragging

about having the smallest. What’s your network? Isn’t it touching the

extent to which adfolk swallow their own work?

Psion 5 The new personal organisers have word processor and spreadsheet

software that is compatible with desktops. This makes them somewhat

over-engineered for the needs of your average adperson, as he’s not

quite sure how to turn his desktop on. He started plugging his address

book into his new Psion, but stopped after BBH and before Belgo. It’s

back to the A4 exercise book and barking at the secretary (sorry,


Voicemail Of course, the new communication tools are about protecting

yourself from being communicated with as much as anything: put your

voicemail on, divert your mobile to your secretary, tell everyone to

send you e-mails rather than bugging you with face-to-face meetings and,

hey presto!, no communication. Time to work on your Minesweeper


Causey has an unsettling vision of what may happen in the future; brain

implants that allow clients to communicate with their account handlers.

Just think, an account team in the pube, all chanting ’make the logo

bigger’ as the latest missive zaps into their brains. Plus ca



There are several approaches but most admen are still marooned between

M&S and Blazer. Otherwise:

Modern Mainstream Anonymity is the watchword: navy, single breasted

suits, cornflower shirts and red-toned ties for the men, soft-lined

knits for the women.

Little Bit Different Just on the Board: off with Nicole Farhi, on with


I’m Creative, Me Young guns still mired in combat keks, Adidas crewnecks

and Airwalks. Shirts buttoned up with no tie starting to oust Rolling

Stones lookalikes in the older age breaks.

Planners Ted Baker and Armani Jeans for the young lads, dandruff around

the collar and Clark’s Cornish pasties for the old stagers. Cardigans

still massive for females, as well as unusually coloured tights - lime

green, burnt umber, etc.

The worst thing happening in the US in this area is dress-down days.

Influenced by the Micronerd Belt on the West Coast it is now thought hip

(and profitable) to look sloppy on Fridays, or any other day when you

haven’t got a client meeting. There are even consultants who tour

offices telling businesses how to make dressing down work for them. If

they were to come over here, they would find that when admen in London

dress down, they are still in uniform: chinos, deckshoes and blue

button-down shirt.


Marriage and kids being totally in has the fortunate side-effect that

you don’t have to lie about what you did at the weekend. Everybody knows

you were up to your neck in Teletubbies videos and baby sick.

Nuclear families make holidays a no-brainer: it’s Mark Warner every


For young and single, the vogue for India and the Far East hasn’t waned,

but America is making a comeback. Adpeople love America because it is an

entire nation built on advertising propositions: biggest, weirdest,

newest, cheapest.


Thirtysomethings drink ’wait wane’ or abstain. Champagne glugging is a

myth unless the agency has a champagne client or a major retailer.

For the youngsters, it appears vodka and premium strength lager are

making a huge comeback. There is something 90s about vodka and cranberry

juice: it’s the alcopop for twentysomethings. Dinner parties are out,

bar cruising in West Soho in. Go to: Alphabet, Two Floors. Don’t go to:

Lupo, the Zebra Bar.


Football is in, Chelsea in particular, as are many forms of ’proling

down’. There is much entertainment to be had attending a game at the

Bridge with your well-spoken, home counties account director. Two yards

into the ground he will turn himself into a lout from a Streatham

estate, cramming gristleburgers and chips into his mouth and saying

’fack’ a lot.

Adfolk aspire to poshness, but make their living out of turning on the

grubby masses. Hence the cultural schizophrenia.


As for other forms of entertainment, adpeople are resolutely


The brain is too stress-frazzled and the attention span too short to

cope with anything else. The literary gods are obviously Nick Hornby and

Helen Fielding. In fact, these writers have cracked the nut every adman

dreams of; huge commercial success plus peer group approbation.

Similarly, movies. The Full Monty has an attractive integrity/cash ring

to it. Romantic comedies always go down well with the big softies of


Creatives are more Coen Brothers through Troma to Russ Meyer. Irony is


Music? Everyone has the Beck album, but when admen are hidden away in

their Audis and Jeeps, it’s Heart 106.2 or Radio 2 for the



Processed cheese factories in Belgium, HQs in Dusseldorf, sales

conferences in Rotterdam, it’s not quite the high-roller’s itinerary

dreamed of when you filled in your application form. In fact, your

average account handler drone will tend to be depressingly England-based

for the first few years.

But, if you stick around long enough, you will get the sagging eyes,

claret belly and Air Miles you desire, either as a Euro Schmoozer or as

a ’member of senior management’.

Creatives can still get long-haul freebies, as long as they work on the

right clients; cars, airlines, mobile phones, oil companies and the


Putting in for a transfer abroad is also wildly fashionable. But bear in

mind the most heartening thought offered by Causey. He’s been here for a

few days now, and it seems to him that ’advertising’s a lot more fun in

London than it is in New York.’ Heartening thought, or terrifying


In                             Out

Feng shui                      Tai Chi

Phony Tony                     Just William

The Verve                      Oasis

Husbands and wives             Office affairs

Audis                          BMWs

Media                          Planning

department                     department

Parody                         Sincerity

Gin                            Sea Breezes

Stayin in                      Going out

America                        Europe

MBAs                           Busking it

Process                        Content

Coke (Diet)                    Coke (sniff)

Big fat ad                     Integration

Campaigns                      Stunts

Quant.                         Qual.

Clients to the footie          Clients to the opera

Techniques                     Ideas

Celebrities                    Ideas

’The soundtrack                Ideas

will really make it’

Breakfast                      Lunch

Wagamama                       Coast

Heart 106.2 FM                 Capital FM

Technology/                    Fmcg clients



Sniping about                  New Man-ism

female colleagues’

                               maternity leave

Larry Sanders                  Friends

Therapy                        Meditation

Norfolk                        Wales

Landmine appeal                Famine

Stoke Newington                Islington

Voyage                         Betty Jackson

Veronica Lake hair             The Rachel

Jaguar                         Mercedes

Madame Bovary                  Bridget Jones

Fur                            PVC

Carole King                    Alanis Morrisette

What it all costs

Maintaining in full the lifestyle of the 90s adperson is not cheap. In fact,

it’s not a cheap business at all. Here is a monthly breakdown of

expenditure. Only the absolute essentials are included, obviously.


Shared nanny                    pounds 840.00

(inc. NI, VAT and kitty money)

Nappies                        pounds 25.00

Clothes                        pounds 72.00

Food                           pounds 500.00


pounds 200,000 mortgage        pounds 2,220.00

(inc. insurance, bills etc)


Exc pension                    pounds 0.00


pounds 28,000 Cherokee         pounds 800.00

(pounds 9,600 car allowance from salary)


Tab picked up by agency for mobile. Monthly expenditure includes one-off

gifts to self such as:

Psion 5                        pounds 599.00


For self                       pounds 15.00

For spouse                     pounds 650.00


Put aside                      pounds 250.00


Food, DPs, booze, eating

out, etc                       pounds 920.00

Books/CDs/movies               pounds 7.99


Everyday haemorrhaging         pounds 320.00

GRAND TOTAL PER MONTH          pounds 7218.99

Total per year                 pounds 86,627.88

Plus pension                   pounds 8,492.00

GRAND GRAND TOTAL              pounds 102,338.87

(excluding tax and NI)