It’s hard to say what caused the greater stir around town: news of
Kevin Keegan’s resignation last week or Monday’s bombshell about
Christine Walker, chief executive of Zenith Media. Not knowing exactly
why she resigned made the comparison seem apt. Friends and rivals alike
- tellingly, in Walker’s case, they are often one and the same - sought
However, as with Keegan, no-one but the principal really knows the whole
story (see page 4).
She will be a huge loss to Zenith. No-one has epitomised a brand more
than she. No-one works harder, with more energy and commitment. Her
clients absolutely adore her to a degree that seems unmatched by anyone
else in the business. So do most of the agency chiefs with whom she has
Simply put, she’s the best around.
It’s true that Walker has been involved in some spectacular rows over
the years. I myself have heard what can only be described as a touch of
menace in her voice. It’s fair to say that she has had a lively
relationship with Campaign and other media, but primarily it’s because
she has been absolutely fixated on getting Zenith the best possible
press, and getting the best deal - in every case - for her clients.
Some of the flak she’s taken is unquestionably down to her being a
She gives some of the pompous and boorish men in the media industry more
than a run for their money - and not all of them like it. Refreshingly,
like Keegan, she did not always hide her emotions and human foibles. She
is all the more to be admired because she had no role model.
Like Keegan too, there has been much speculation about her private life
and personal motivation for leaving. It’s all just that -
What we do know is that she has been very loyal to Zenith. She could
have named her job, but chose to stay during the difficult days of the
old Saatchi and Saatchi group, and then stuck by Cordiant after the
Maurice debacle. Resigning to contemplate her options would be true to
form. For once, it would not be a euphemism.
She has been linked with several jobs, most intriguingly to run the
merged WPP media operation once Martin Sorrell has his way. But she
could equally well run a major media owner. The one doubt ever raised
about Walker to my knowledge is whether she would ’travel well’ and
succeed abroad. I would never bet against her.
Zenith will now find out just how much of a personality-based business
media really is. As for Walker, no-one knows what she is going to
I wouldn’t blink if she succeeded Keegan at Newcastle. I only know she
will do it well and whatever it may be, I wish the First Lady of British
advertising every success.