10 Interesting People I’ve Met In Advertising


Ok so I’ve now been in ‘advertising’ for 10 plus years, and during that time I’ve met some pretty interesting people.  In order to fast track your knowledge for interesting people to seek out and meet I thought I would list 10 of the most interesting people I’ve come across.  Seek them out, ask them for a coffee, pester them, if you’re interested in advertising, and can get any exposure to these people you’ll be better off.  They are presented in no particular order. I’ve also avoided putting current Naked Communications people on the list.  Further, all the people on the list are agency side. I did have some people on the client side on the list but it felt either sycophantic, or I worried I was leaving some important client out.


1. Cleve Cameron, JWT New Zealand

Cleve joined Naked around five years ago on reference from David ‘Nobby’ Nobay (Nobby should really be on this list too).  Nobby said “Cleve’s thinking was not so much ‘media neutral’ as ‘media unusual’, and of course he was right.  Cleve had started up his own movement called The BeOp” (Be Optimistic), which has included a magazine made entirely out of plastic so you could read it in the bath, and radios designed to be rolled into shopping centres with transmitters built in to disrupt and tap into the shopping centres sound system. Cleve is a great guy to get stranded in an airport with during a storm. You’ll drink plenty of single malt whisky, and find yourself meeting and drinking with a wide variety of strangers. He’s now JWTNZECD.”


2. Harold Mitchel AC, Aegis

Harold of course needs no introduction. However, as a controversial, charismatic and larger than life individual few do it better. Harold, is a great role model for taking life on, on your own terms, and not conforming.  I’ve had a few meetings with Harold and even presented side-by side with him once.  On that occasion Harold wanted me to wear a suit, whilst I wanted to wear a t-shirt.  He was getting rather heated about it.  Trying to be funny I suggested if he wanted me to wear a suit then he should wear a t-shirt. His reply was a finger in my chest, and a command ‘Don’t fuck with me Ferrier’.  I don’t think many people do!  His firm hand, mixed with serious generosity to others in the industry is well known. You can donate to his foundation here.


3. Sean Cummins, CumminsRoss

Sean has always been a fascinating figure to me.  People I know who have worked for him rave about him, yet people who don’t know him see a stylised head shot and judge him on that.  Sean is one of the more charming, enigmatic and insightful people I’ve come across, yet he’s also an alpha male with an ego the size of Queensland, and strong presence.  Building your own business twice in such a short period of time is quite an achievement too.


4. Faris Yakob, MDC

Faris can talk about anything better than anyone else. He knows more stuff than anyone I know, and he comes up with his own original thoughts at a rate of knots.  He’s genuinely clever.    He invented the concept of ‘transmedia planning’ (telling the whole of the campaign through the sum of its parts), it’s a philosophy that’s had a significant impact on me.  Faris lives in New York where he is Chief Innovation Officer at MDC (the owners of CP+B), and was in Morgan Spulock’s movie about branded content.  Faris is also possibly the nicest guy in advertising.  He’s always available for a chat, or a tweet @faris.


5. Russel Howcroft, GPY&R Brands

Russel is as straight up as an advertising man can get.  He is an advertising zealot.  It seems the only thing he holds in higher regard than the art of advertising is his family.  I’ve long held that people like people when it’s clear what they stand for, and that to me partly explains Russel’s popularity.  Someone described him as “being one of the nicest people I’ve met despite being a card carrying member of the Liberal party”. Says it all really, and one of the reasons I find him so interesting.


6. Anita Batho, Torch

Anita was a boss of mine when I was at Added Value, and now a brand consultant at Torch. She knows more about brand strategy than just about anyone else I know.  She’s a wonderful teacher, with a razor sharp mind.  Anita was my mentor for many years and at a craft level has been the best teacher I’ve ever had.


7. Jamie Clift, Droga5

Jamie is a suit I worked closely with at Saatchi & Saatchi, and now at Droga5.  M&C Saatchi have a mantra of ‘ruthless simplicity’, they probably stole it off Jamie. He keeps everything as simple as possible, and he’s straight up.  He has no tolerance for bullshit – and would probably resent the fact I put him on this list. I’ll keep his entry short as he’ll probably ask me to take it off.


8. Mark Green, The Monkeys

Mark’s nickname used to be a character from a famous movie about centre earth. At Saatchi & Saatchi he would hang around the creative department and say ‘Bring me the creative’, ‘Bring me the creative’., rubbing his hands together.  Very creative himself, his skill is to worship creativity and those who are better at it than himself.  He makes room, and creates space for great things to happen – look no further than his agency for proof.


9. Tim Burrows, Mumbrella

OK so Mumbrella may not be quite up to the standard of the media property I write for, Adnews. And nor is Mumbrella an agency (yet?) but his ability to embrace tabloid scuttlebutt, and mix it with intelligent, insightful analysis is a credit to him.  A man who is shaping the industry we work in as much as anyone else.  He’s also at times helped and hindered my progress in this industry with cheerful and polite indifference.


10. Rebecca Ferrier, Braincells

Beck is one of the reasons I got into advertising. She was a copywriter at Saatchi & Saatchi for a while. I remember lying on the floor as a teenager upstairs reading her copies of D&AD.  Beck takes the no bullshit approach to advertising, and hates it when planners pontificate to long about brand essences, or brand positioning onions.  Her attitude reminds me of some of the best advice I ever had in advertising ‘Rule number 1, don’t get in the way’, it’s a nice note to leave this list on.


If you think you should be on the list let me know and I’ll adjust it, it’s by no means exhaustive and I’m already thinking of others who I’d like to put on here.  I just made it up tonight so chances are I’ve missed someone important, influential and interesting.