NEWSMAKERS/CHRIS INGRAM AND DAVID REICH: A double act prepares for its finest performance - This old pair have made a new vow - to push CIA into the top six

Chris Ingram and David Reich (or Pinky and Porky according to one friend) are an odd couple - one is all controlled, chilly brilliance, the other wears the fire in his belly on his sleeve.

Chris Ingram and David Reich (or Pinky and Porky according to one

friend) are an odd couple - one is all controlled, chilly brilliance,

the other wears the fire in his belly on his sleeve.



They are, they both agree, complementary characters, and last week they

exchanged love tokens and job titles in the presence of the City

(Campaign, 14 March) and vowed to stay together until their company was

in the top six worldwide. At the very least.



The company they are wedded to is CIA, which began life as one of the

early media independents 21 years ago - the days when it was a grubby

business, peopled by backroom boys who tried to hustle their way to a

piece of the action. CIA - today much more than a media-buying company

and still expanding - claims network billings of dollars 3 billion.



But for Ingram there’s still something to prove - last week’s move was

just the latest in the ’we’ll show ’em’ campaign. ’The lot of us from

that first generation of media people, we were told, it’s a stupid idea,

it’s not going to work, and I think we’ve still got chips on our

shoulders. I’m still saying I’m going to show the devils.’



Ingram has been chairman and chief executive of CIA for the past 21

years, but as the company readies itself for a fresh push forward, the

founder and figurehead has finally decided that it’s too much for one

man to achieve alone.



Reich - until last week chairman of CIA’s European operations - will

take on the mantle of chief executive.



Ingram admits the company’s expansion agenda is just too great for one

pair of shoulders. ’I’ve been aware for about a year that it’s

impossible to do all aspects of the job well - there aren’t enough hours

in the day and I don’t necessarily have the skills to do all aspects of

the job well.’



While Ingram will take on the strategy - the ’vision thing’, building

the blocks for further international and market expansion, Reich’s focus

will be primarily an internal one - building the team, making sure the

clients get the best possible service.



Reich is clearly relishing his return to the media cut and thrust. ’When

Chris first asked me to come and work at CIA I said I’d do it only if I

could make a difference. I didn’t need a job, I’d made some money - but

I wondered if I could do it again and I promise you, the easiest

discussion Chris has ever had with anybody about anything was about what

I’d get paid. I said, ’You decide what’s right, I’m not going to

argue.’’



Reich is perhaps the only man with whom Ingram could bear to share his

precious company.



The two go back a long way - to the days when Ingram was the boss at the

Media Department and Reich was his 26-year-old precocious media buyer.

When Ingram left to launch CIA, he asked Reich to go with him. Reich

said: ’I want to be the boss first,’ and stepped into Ingram’s old

shoes. For the next two decades, their careers ran almost parallel -

Ingram building CIA and expanding it across Europe, Reich doing the same

for TMD.



They remained friends. ’We had a shorthand then, we have a shorthand

now, and we laugh at things that nobody else would find funny,’ Reich

explains. ’There’s 50 per cent of us that overlaps because we’ve both

built operations and run them,’ Ingram adds. ’But there’s that other 50

per cent difference, and it’s the differences that make it so

strong.’



Paul Green, the joint managing director of Media Dimensions, and a

fellow founder with Ingram and Reich of the old Association of Media

Independents, likens the duo to a famous political double act. ’Chris is

like John Major and David is Michael Heseltine. They do complement each

other and two such heavyweights at the top can only be good for

CIA.’



One colleague says: ’Chris has always looked up, never down. He’s never

been great at pulling his team together around him. David’s very

different - he’s very close to the people who work beneath him, he’s

very concerned about building loyalty and a team spirit.’



Ingram agrees with that last sentiment. ’David’s strength is in leading,

motivating and developing a team and he gets an enormous buzz out of

that - and he does it brilliantly well and has come in with a new vigour

for it. And frankly I’ve been getting less and less good at it,’ he

admits.



And in true double-act style, Reich adds: ’I can’t do the visionary

stuff - simple as that - I can’t do it. Chris is very clever at deciding

which direction and has the patience to sell the dream to others. As

soon as Chris gets to the point where he says ’right, I’ve got them’, I

can then lead the team and do all the stuff.’



Mutual appreciation runs riot, but many outsiders believe it can only

strengthen the CIA brand. One observer says: ’Chris has always

surrounded himself with grey men, faceless men. He’s never let anyone

get close. Now he’s finally turned to his old terrier buyer, the one

person who can kick arses sky high. I’d be surprised if all the names on

CIA’s management team were in the same order in a year’s time.’



So far, according to Ingram, internal reaction to Reich has been

positive. ’When someone comes in from the outside it’s a bit like a

canary arriving in a flock of sparrows, they try and kill it, but the

people here were basically saying, thank God for David - there was

clearly a vacuum that he filled. Senior guys here were queuing up to

talk to David because he tells it like it is and he’s very direct. I

tend to move in a series of nudges and hints and expect the guys to work

it out for themselves.’



Reich is not known for his tact and diplomacy. ’Sensitivity isn’t

normally my middle name,’ he admits. According to Jonathan Durden, a

partner at New PHD, Reich has an ability to be intimidating and

endearing at the same time. ’He works at both ends of the spectrum and

that can be unsettling. But David’s an awesome businessman and carries a

lot of gravitas.’



Firming up the somewhat flabby domestic set-up and creating a

comprehensible and coherent image for CIA must be priorities for Reich.

CIA Medianetwork in the UK has already expanded well beyond the spot and

space buying process, but at group level the message is unclear, and the

joint ventures and fuzzy network positioning need tightening up.



For Ingram, the challenges include global expansion and increasing the

nature of what CIA has to offer. And as the agency networks such as

Martin Sorrell’s WPP, Interpublic and Omnicom finally begin to realise

the value of their media offerings, the need for the old independents

such as CIA to be fleet of foot is ever greater.



’The agencies are stacking their media chips,’ Ingram explains. ’We have

to move faster and that’s one of the reasons we’re splitting the

roles.



We set ourselves a target at the end of last year to be in the top six

players worldwide in five years - till the end of 2000. We’ve got to get

on with it.’



Getting on with it includes, importantly, expansion into the US. ’We’ll

make our move into the US within the next three years - the timing will

be very much related to opportunities. It could be an alliance, a joint

venture or whatever.’



And the CIA proposition - what Ingram calls ’the vision thing; the only

thing I’m allowed to talk about these days’ - will continue to

metamorphose.



’In five years we want a company that can plan, manage and negotiate the

whole integrated communications process - including spot and space, but

also event marketing, advertiser-funded programming and so on,’ Ingram

explains. ’We want to have serious relationships with our clients so we

can charge sensible terms, working further up the food chain.



’If what I’ve described does happen, then a lot of creative agencies

will become satellites of a media communications company, rather than

the other way round and that definitely gets me out of bed every

morning. I’ve got to say we do really think we can go all the way.’



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