The A List: Adland's alternative careers

The fourth estate has a strong allure among adland's finest, with most A Listers owning up to a hankering to join the press pack. Question: What do Carolyn Carter, Bruce Haines and Brinsley Dresden have in common? Answer: They all would have been journalists if their current professions hadn't secured their fealty first.

And they are in good company; journalism is the most popular second choice of career cited in the A List. Thoughts of Piers Morgan's downfall, Boris Johnson's "operation Scouse grovel" or Evelyn Waugh's tales of hapless William Boot in Scoop have not put them off.

No. Campaign's ambitious A Listers clearly seek to emulate the likes of The Washington Post's Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. They picture themselves brandishing notebooks and shedding their designer suits for battered old Macintoshes. They covet Pulitzer prizes instead of D&AD Pencils.

Well, let's hope that is their inspiration, rather than the lavish lifestyles of the likes of Conrad Black.

But journalism does not sweep the board - a large swathe of A Listers clearly have musical hankerings. This won't come to a shock to the rest of the world; plenty of advertising creatives resemble wannabe rock stars with their longish hair, battered jeans and overdose of attitude.

But perhaps the most surprising detail is that the third most popular alternative career is law. Who has hankerings towards the murky legal world?

J. Walter Thompson's Craig Davis, Clemmow Hornby Inge's Neil Goodlad and M&C Saatchi's Judy Mitchem, that's who. Apart from the pay, there does not seem to be much to recommend it.

But the media is full of individuals and the revelation of many A Listers' alternative careers throws up some interesting results. For instance, James Murphy, the chief executive elect of Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R, claims he would have been a freelance combine-harvester contractor; Steve King, ZenithOptimedia's worldwide chief executive, says he would have been a supermarket shelf stacker, while MindShare's Nick Emery thinks dog walking was his only other option.

Meanwhile, those of you who know the capable TBWA European chief, Paul Bainsfair, would perhaps suggest submarine captain, airline pilot or president of a small Latin American country as potential career options. But no.

If Bainsfair hadn't made it in advertising, he would like to be the man who hands out the towels and sun loungers at Club 55.

David Fletcher, an esteemed media brainbox at Mediaedge:cia, has visions of life in a lab coat as a nuclear physicist. Not entirely illogical, perhaps, as both his real and alternative careers require a big brain and a nerdy outlook on life.

Now let's hope that Euro RSCG's creative director, Nick Hastings, is joking when he suggests he would have been a model if his life in advertising had not worked out. A model for what? Those elasticated trousers or comfortable shoes advertised at the back of weekend supplements, perhaps?

Maybe the most inexplicable entry of them all comes from Walker Media's Phil Georgiadis. He wishes he was an estate agent, surely the most loathed profession in the country. Has he been gazumped recently and so feels the need for some insider knowledge, or does he simply relish the prospect of frustrating British housebuyers with a lazy and arrogant attitude?

Dave Droga, the global creative chief of Publicis, offers an alarmingly dispassionate comment, asserting he would have "hated advertising, like the average punter" had he not entered the business.

Oddly enough, there were a couple of gym teachers listed. The IPC editorial director, Mike Soutar, narrowly missed having a whistle as his only adornment, as did Vizeum's Trista Grant.

Position Career Votes

1 Journalism 40

2 Music 16

3= Law 15

3= Film 15

5 Cooking 12

6= Acting 10

6= Architecture 10

8 Sport 7

9= Medicine 5

9= Television 5

9= Politics 5

12 Art and design 3


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