Media Lifeline: Jim Marshall

The rise of Starcom's departing star corresponds with that of his beloved football team, Chelsea FC.

1971: Chelsea beat Real Madrid in a replayed European Cup Winners' Cup final, with John Dempsey netting the winner. The 16-year-old uber-Chelsea fan Jim Marshall celebrates, only dimly aware that this will be as good as it gets for decades - or that, two years later, still clutching his O-level woodwork certificate, he is destined to join the Young & Rubicam media department as tea boy.

1988: Chelsea are relegated and carve a name as a yo-yo club. There's no such rollercoaster ride for Marshall (pictured). Having prospered at Reeves Robertshaw Needham, he joins D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles as a senior media executive.

1997: The anonymous years. Chelsea are now entrenched as banal mid-table grafters, throwing in an occasional flirt with relegation. Then something rather odd happens. Chelsea win the FA Cup, beating the mighty Middlesbrough in the final. By now, Marshall, having been a founding member of The Media Centre (spun off from DMB&B in 1991), has pulled off his own miracle, becoming chief executive in 1997.

2005: Born in the year of Chelsea's only previous league championship, Marshall often confessed his fear he would probably die in the year of the club's next triumph. Happily, thanks to the cash of new Chelsea proprietor, Roman Abramovich, he is not called upon to make that ultimate sacrifice - as Chelsea pull off the big one. (Workwise, having seen through the clutch of mergers that created the Starcom group, he's now its chairman.)

2009: Marshall's final job at Starcom is as its executive director. Now, sadly, he judges it's time (in the spirit of one-time Chelsea hero Alan Hudson - pictured) to ease off a bit. He'll spend more time with his season ticket and perhaps do some consultancy work.

Fast forward: 2012 Chelsea are relegated. Abramovich, having tired of football, had taken his money and sunk it into women's volleyball in the Siberia region, leaving Chelsea bankrupt and in freefall. Meanwhile, Marshall decides to rejoin the industry. And he shocks the media world by (re)joining Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R in a consultancy sort-of-thingy role with no responsibilities whatsoever (he claims) in the tea department.


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