An Hour of Advertising with... D&AD's Tim Lindsay

In an Hour of Advertising, Matt Williams sits down for a drink and a chat with some of the industry's most inspirational people. Then he publishes the results pretty much verbatim. Illustrations by Guy Sexty.

Tim Lindsay has led some of the most important advertising agencies in the UK. He’s been president of both TBWA and Lowe. Chairman of Publicis UK. Managing director of Y&R. And he played a key role in the rise of BBH, where he oversaw the Levi’s account, and a certain Launderette-based commercial.

He’s what you’d call the consummate account man. A strong leader with an eye for great creativity.

After moving on from the chaos of agency life, Tim assumed one of the most dignified roles in the advertising industry, becoming chief executive of D&AD.

Winning one of the organisation’s Black or Yellow Pencils is still the pinnacle for most creatives to aim for. Its book is revered by creative leaders all over the world, its festival is a pilgrimage for anyone with a passion for great ideas, and its new education arm is the perfect springboard for young minds wanting to make a difference.

And now after almost a decade at D&AD, Tim is taking a step back from day-to-day matters. He’ll still be involved – he’s becoming D&AD’s chairman – and he still has plenty to offer agencies as an advisor to MSQ Partners and The Gate Worldwide.

But the move makes it the perfect opportunity to allow Tim to reflect on his career. So for the latest Hour of Advertising, we sat down in D&AD’s office to chat about Tim’s career, his take on the industry’s future, his favourite creatives, campaigns and agencies, and a whole lot more…

Part one: the golden age of BBH, the qualities that made Lowe special and what you really want in a client…

Do you remember a time in your career where you really fucked up?

The biggest mistake I probably ever made was leaving BBH. I’d been there since nearly the beginning. I think I was the 13th person to join after it started – it was agreed that I’d come in and work on the third piece of business they won, whatever it was going to be. That happened to be Levi’s. And being the account director on Levi’s through the 80s was just an incredible job.

I was joint managing director with Simon Sherwood, we were doing really well. My subsequent partner Jerry Judge – who was chairman of BBH at the time – felt we were a bit thwarted and we decided to stick our heads above the parapet. We got this ridiculous – in financial terms – offer from Y&R to go and turn their London office around. It’s the only time my salary literally doubled overnight. And in all honesty it was a fucking stupid thing to do. The people who stayed at BBH created a legendary agency that was admired for the next 20 years. It would have been lovely to be a part of it – and of course they still went on and made gazillions!

Do you reflect much on that? It there genuine regret?

Well no, because having said that, we still went on and did some new stuff, ended up at Lowe and had a brilliant time. Who knows what would have happened if we did things differently? The choices we make alter our destiny every single second of every day. But when we walked into Y&R, it certainly felt like a mistake at the time!

You were walking into a situation at Y&R that was even worse than you thought?

Within six months I think pretty much every multinational client we had fired us. We arrived and all the senior people were hugging whatever clients that were left to themselves. Young people were being neglected – exploited even. It was a real mess. Actually we did turn it round. We were able to do some things. And I met my missus there – so good definitely did come of it! But in career terms it was incredibly stressful.

So going back to your time at BBH in what was a real golden age – can you describe to me what it was like at the time?

Subsequently you know it was a golden time, but I don’t know if we thought like that at the time. Nigel would probably say that no one ever does as well after they leave the family, and maybe so in many cases. It has spawned a large chunk of the industry, but other agencies have done that as well. Lowe certainly did. And working there was the time I think about professionally as the most successful time in the industry. It was a really good agency – and good in a different way to BBH really.

In what way was Lowe different?

I always think the biggest test for an agency is whether you’re doing your best work on your biggest clients. Are you doing work that people actually see that changes behaviour and builds value for brands? BBH did amazing work, but often it was on some of its smaller or niche brands, and we were perhaps doing slightly less successful work on some of the bigger brands like NatWest and Shell. Whereas at Lowe we were doing amazing work on Heineken, Stella, Tesco, Vauxhall, Smirnoff – the list went on. Almost all the work was significant, big money campaigns that were great.

People talk about agencies being ‘creative-led’ or ‘account-led’ etc…what was Lowe like then?

Most agencies have the classic line-up of ‘creative, planner and account handler’ and Lowe was probably no different. But I do think that the best agencies are creatively led full stop – so maybe that’s a management team that includes a creative, an account handler and a planner in their line-up. Despite the fact that Frank (Lowe) was an account man, it was still always what I’d call a ‘creatively led agency’.

The difference between a design agency and an ad agency is that most ad agencies are started usually by people with different backgrounds and different capabilities. Whereas design agencies are started by people who all meet at the Royal College of Art and all do exactly the same thing. That’s mostly why they don’t grow very much!

You mentioned loads of huge brands there that Lowe did. What were the brands that you were interested in working on?

Levi’s was a significant client when I was at BBH. We had most of the business outside of the States and our work ran all over the place. But to be honest I liked pretty much most business I worked on. I was never mad on financial services, but hey, you can’t have it all. At Lowe, our two most awarded accounts in the first couple of years that I was there were Vauxhall – which was either our biggest or second biggest client – and Olympus, which was our smallest. They both wanted to do great work, but Vauxhall had £20m to spend whilst Olympus had £1m. They were different, but as long as they were ambitious and wanted to do great work, we were happy.

Was that the message then, to be a client of Lowe you had to have ambition?

For clients, for sure. If I’m absolutely truthful we did have a couple of big , money-making clients churning away in the background. But even when we merged with Lintas and we took on lots of Unilever product work, the ambition and expectation was always to do good stuff.

Part two: fighting fires at Y&R, avoiding industry committees and hanging out with Brad Pitt…

You’re already talking very differently about the different agencies you’ve worked at. So I assume jumping into a big network role at Y&R was a genuine culture shock!?

It was an incredible culture shock. Things like having the Y&R European management in the same building on the same floor as us was strange, even if for the most part they were very nice people. They’d realised they’d completely screwed the agency up – they’d made terrible management appointments and the agency was in a real state. Morale was at rock bottom, it all felt a bit corrupt and lazy.

We were incredibly arrogant, because we’d only really ever been successful where we’d been together before at BBH and TBWA. We did a lot of quite dramatic things to wake the place out of its terrible stupor. And as I said we lost tons of business – every Friday I’d get another call from someone saying they were taking their work elsewhere – but we started to get some traction and did some really nice work for Fosters and other people.

So what else did you do early on to stem the tide and try and win back morale?

You just have to get stuck in and really lead from the front in those circumstances. Pushing back on clients and insisting on great work was important – we had a really good creative department, so we had to be seen to want it more than anyone else.

I’ll tell you another thing that happens when you enter an agency on its knees like that. You’re greeted with a load of people who have seen them come and seen them go – which is what Derek in the car park literally used to say! – and you have to work out who’s actually willing to play. Because you do a bit of good work and you get on some pitch lists, and you start to build a team around you.

That little group starts to look more fun – being part of a successful team always is – so then more people want to join in. Often first it’s the younger people who want to be busy and want to be more engaged. Then that larger group of people who had decided to stand on the touchline and see how it goes wants to get involved. There’ll be some people who won’t ever want to join in and you may have to get rid of them, but there’s a core that grows and as success happens, more people want to be associated with it.

Did you ever have people you’d turn to work with at times like this? Always bringing the same people in?

Oh God yeah. Two in particular. Mark Cramphorn, who was effectively BBH’s first client services director. We took him with us to Y&R. He then went off to start his own agency but I also ended up hiring him after that at Publicis and TBWA. He describes that as the triumph of hope over expectation. And then similarly a really brilliant planner called Paul Edwards. He came to Y&R with us from BBH and when the head of planning at BBH left, they tried to get Paul back. He very loyally stayed and then ended up coming to Lowe and Publicis with me too.

And of course Denise, my PA. Even if I haven’t asked her, if I started a new job on the Monday then by about the Wednesday she’d be there sorting everything out!

Is it important then, to have those ‘go-to’ people?

It certainly makes it more fun. You know you can depend on them. Who knows, maybe it could be perceived as a bit weak and unadventurous. But I just think when you meet those guys, you want to be around them because they’re so brilliant at what they do. I probably screwed them over by keeping them close!

With such big tasks on your hands, was it always a case of getting your head down and cracking on with things, or did you ever feel like you were part of a wider industry?

You sort of do and you don’t. You feel very much part of the tribe first. That’s how you identify to people in the business – ‘I work at BBH’, or ‘I work at Lowe’.

Some people love the ‘committee life’ and forge great careers working closely with the likes of the IPA etc. I personally never really went in for it. I was asked often to join them whilst I was CEO of agencies and I actively avoided it as I didn’t want to feel obligated to do anything. But look, James Murphy’s done a lot of good IPA stuff so maybe I’m the one that’s wrong!

Were you conscious about the ‘fun’ of the industry? Was it as obvious as it seems?

Oh it was – and still is – a lot of fun. People my age who say that all the fun has gone out of the industry are talking bollocks. But it really was immense fun during the time we’re talking about. At BBH a lot of it had to do with Levi’s, actually. We met all kinds of glamorous people. We made a commercial with Brad Pitt and hung out with him. Nick Kamen (the star of the ‘Launderette’ film) became a mate. We went to a lot of parties.

To be serious about it for a second, I think what’s happened is that it was such a profitable business then and the production part in particular made a lot of money. They took a cut of everything and their margins were through the roof. Production companies were both big and rich and that’s where the Ferraris were. Now, people work twice as hard for half the money. The maths has changed.

So you basically all just dossed about and still made a load of money…

We still worked really hard. That’s the thing to remember. I still think for the most part I worked two weekends in five on pitches, for example. But you weren’t often in the agency at 9 or 10 ‘o clock at night just to get the day job done, which feels like par for the course now.

There’s probably a few less lunches now too…

The liquid lunch is probably a thing of the past, but that’s a good thing actually. I would say though that I’ve never not gone back to work after a lunch – ever. There have certainly been occasions where I really shouldn’t have, but I’ve always made an appearance!

Part three: identifying creative superstars, plotting a start-up and being seduced by Maurice Levy…

Were there particular parts of the industry that you really enjoyed? Was it the shoots, the pitching…?

I’ve always liked pitching, And I’ve always liked shoots! And actually both for the same reason. It’s a real bonding process. You get this ‘family’ for the duration of the pitch or the shoot. There’s an end goal that everyone is doing their damndest to make it as good as they possibly can. They’re great experiences and I always got a buzz out of both.

On shoots, I was always quite interested in the production process. I actually ended up being quite a competent TV Producer. Making Levi’s TV commercials was always rather enjoyable, because usually it was in California or Arizona or somewhere exotic! Though the first two (‘Launderette’ and ‘Bath’) were shot in Twickenham Studios, which is a little less glamorous...

You worked with a lot of creative superstars. Could you always identify them quite quickly when they were coming through? What made them special?

You couldn’t always tell. Quite a few of the truly great ones were outwardly quite conformist. Alan Waldie and Adrian Holmes were both brilliant, both wore tweed jackets, V-neck jumpers and ties, but both were genuinely quite eccentric in different ways.

Adrian was charming and urbane but there’s a wonderful streak of eccentricity in him. And Waldie, when you knew him, was just plain bonkers! They worked together for a while and when they did it was absolute fireworks. They were both utterly brilliant.

Waldie came to Lowe Howard Spink when it was first set up and worked with a very famous creative called Geoff Seymour. Seymour was the creative director of CDP when he was 24, he wrote some seminal commercials. He was that good. He allegedly went to Saatchis as the first £100k creative. And he was outwardly quite scary, but actually he was a real gent. I was one of only two account managers at Lowe when it first started and I was really under the cosh. And if you needed a bit of copy turned around fast, Geoff would always do it for you.

So I guess that shows that talent manifests itself in different ways. Some people are self-evidently brilliant at art direction or design or writing etc, whilst others you don’t see their real talent until later on. Ben Priest, for example, he was a good copywriter but you didn’t go ‘he’s the best I’ve ever seen’. But he’s a fantastic chief creative officer, a brilliant leader. But I didn’t necessarily see that in the 27-year-old Ben.

Ben actually said something similar about himself when I interviewed him for this series. Do you think having that element of self-awareness of your talents is important?

Sort of. I think in a stupid sort of way you don’t really know what you’re good at until you get a chance to do it. And Ben got a chance to do it. He had the balls to start his own agency and he had to step up to the plate. They were all great at what they did, but they didn’t know how great they were going to be.

Did you never fancy doing what they did and start an agency?

I was going to start the interview by saying that not starting my own agency was my biggest mistake, but it sounds very arrogant. I do actually just think that some people have the balls to do it and others don’t. I wish I had – but I always had an excuse. Whether that’s because I was being paid too much, or had another child on the way, or couldn’t quite find the right partners…and I really regret it.

So you had thought about it?

I had this slightly gimmicky idea where the agency I was going to start would be called ‘Ten’ and always have no more than 10 clients. And when the 11th client came along you’d find another group of managers, retain 40% of shareholdings, keep a central core of services so you’d cut costs…you’re building something and also fulfilling your promise to your original clients. Because I think if you do the maths, 10 clients is the most you can have whilst making a significant contribution to each. I wrote a business plan during a very boring Y&R conference! In Austin, Texas!

Instead of launching your own thing, you always moved to big, well-known agencies. What was your thinking behind each move?

I’ll be very honest with you in that when I moved somewhere, it was usually either for 10 years or two! That was just the way it was (and D&AD will be almost 10 years, I’m happy to say). It wasn’t always that the grass seemed greener somewhere else. I left Lowe because the merger with Lintas had changed the agency. And the travel was absolutely killing me. I was trying to keep the network going, overseeing mergers in multiple countries, and my travel schedule was absolutely ridiculous. I had one of those British Airways ‘Black Cards’, where basically BA employees would do anything for you. I think for about three years running I was one of British Airways’ top 20 customers. I was always on a plane. I had kids who barely recognised me, and I had to say ‘I can’t do this any longer, I want to leave’.

So I ended up at Publicis because I was seduced by Maurice Levy.

You’re not the first or the last person to be seduced by Maurice Levy…

I went for my interview with Maurice at the Champs-Élysées. I was due to meet him at 11, and I’m sitting in this slightly ornate reception area, and time was passing. 15 minutes…20 minutes…30 minutes…45 minutes later and I’m still sitting there. Receptionists were coming up to tell me that ‘Mr Levy is delayed’. There was never an apology though, obviously!

I thought ‘after an hour I’m going to leave’, more out of self-respect than anything else. And at one minute to 12 the lift doors open and Maurice strides in. He doesn’t say sorry either, but he comes up to me and says “I was with the president.” Two hours of charm and brilliance later and I was seduced.

Part four: building a management style, the skills that every account handler needs and securing the top job at D&AD…

Talk me through your time at TBWA. It felt like another big turnaround job…

TBWA had been great. When Trevor (Beattie) was there, they did some great work. But it had fallen on hard times and it was quite difficult to pick it up again. Shall we just say I really didn’t like or respect the European or worldwide management and they really didn’t like me. And they did a lot of stuff to mess us about – approving stuff and then saying they hadn’t.

They also bought an agency in Sweden just as we won Unibet across Europe – the whole of the Swedish agency had less revenue than what Unibet brought, but because this agency had the Swedish Lottery we lost out big. There were so many crappy moment like that, that in the end it was pleasing to be chucked out.

What would you say was your management style?

I think I was influenced most by Geoff Howard-Spink and Nigel Bogle. Geoff gave me the great piece of advice that you have two ears and only one mouth, so you should use them in that ratio. He had a great temperament and was very laid back about stuff.

Nigel was just very quietly determined, which I liked. Jim Collins in ‘From Good to Great’ – which is a really decent business book – has this great chapter on leadership. And Collins identifies having a lack of ego and a steely determination for the company to do well as the two defining parts of leadership. And Nigel was like that.

Once when I was at BBH, Nigel took me out to lunch at Carluccio’s, and he told me that he valued me ‘not because I was actually very good at anything, but because I was quite good at everything’. 30 years later I’m still thinking about that and wondering whether it was really a compliment!

But that idea of being a jack of all trades is an interesting one…

I think you do have to be a jack of all trades as an account handler. I mean, as an account handler you do basically the same job whether you’re an account executive or the CEO. You just do it on a different scale. I think you have to be credible at most things.

That’s why I took such an interest in TV production – like (former BBH global chief executive) Gwyn Jones did, he actually became a TV producer for a while. I forced myself to learn about TV production, so I could talk my client through a very complicated TV production quote. And equally with planning and strategy, whilst I wouldn’t say they were massive strong points of mine, you had to be credible. You have to be diligent and detail-orientated.

And that’s a mindset you pass on to the rest of the agency?

Well as you know I’m chairman of The Gate, and that’s the thing I love about them. They have the saying that ‘everybody sweeps’. And that comes from a story I recalled about Nigel Bogle. You’d have a client come in at BBH and it’d be Nigel polishing the boardroom table. It didn’t matter that he was the biggest and most successful person in the room. I think that’s good for morale and culture. It’s setting an example.

We need to remember that no one in advertising is important. That’s what I hate about Cannes – you get lots of self-important people strutting about. No one is really that important. Sir Martin Sorrell might have been once, but really for what are quite small businesses, we don’t half give ourselves airs and graces.

Is this something that attracted you to D&AD?

Working here really brings you back down to earth. Because we all sit in one room and I’m the oldest in that room by miles! It makes you humble.

What was your relationship with D&AD before you joined?

We’d always go to the awards. It was always a great night. I know someone who was conceived at the D&AD awards ceremony! And when Jerry and I were at Y&R, we did a commercial for Fosters that only ran in cinema, because it was basically soft porn. It was a take-off of the Haagen-Dazs campaign, which I’d been the account director on whilst at BBH, so we got permission for it.

It was up against Smirnoff for an award at D&AD. On the night they played the two nominations. And – for obvious reasons, because it was mainly an audience of blokes – the Fosters one got a huge round of applause. But the Yellow Pencil went to Smirnoff. Jerry and I were quite drunk, the client was there and quite disappointed, and we went up to Anthony Simmonds-Gooding, who was the chairman of D&AD at the time, poking him in the chest and shouting at him.

Anthony was a gentleman and as calm as he always was, but we had to write an apology to him afterwards. Little did I know I’d be working for his organisation later down the line!

So how did the opportunity come about?

I was out of TBWA and looking at what I was going to do next and I knew Tim Kennedy, who was the previous CEO of D&AD. In fact I’d helped him become CEO here when he first got the job. Tim got me onto the board as an ‘appointed trustee’ – the board was about 24 people and a bit chaotic, so I think he felt he needed a bit of help and support.

Tim had at the time said to his wife that if her career took a certain turn then he’d take some time off and look after the children. And it did. He went back to Ireland, so I just happened to be standing in the right place at the right time, which is the secret of success!

What did you expect as you first took on the job?

My expectations were all wrong. It’s genuinely become the best job that I’ve ever had…just not the best paid! But it’s enormous fun. I think we’ve done quite good things. I think we’ve kept it relevant, raised the profile, retained the prestige of the Pencils, we’ve started a festival, we’ve massively expanded D&AD New Blood…and I’m really proud of all those things.

And now you’re becoming chairman…

…Yes, which means we’re in a CEO search. And rightly, there’s a lot of interest. Because it’s a fantastic organisation that does a lot of good things.

Part five: maintaining the prestige of D&AD, nurturing young talent and picking the dream D&AD Festival speaker…

How have you kept the prestige of a D&AD Pencil?

We do give more Pencils than we used to, because we didn’t give Pencils for being nominated for a Yellow or getting in the Annual…and now we give Graphite and Wood Pencils for those. So we’ve gone from giving about 70 Pencils per year to giving 700, which sounds like a massive escalation. But in fact we give fewer – or at most similar – Yellows and Black Pencils now.

It was a business decision, to be honest. The return on our entrance investment was looking a bit shaky, so we had to do it. And in fact, getting nominated for a Yellow and getting in the Annual are very, very big achievements in their own right, and they deserve to be recognised as such. So I wouldn’t say we’ve inflated it, we’ve kept it pretty steady, and I’d say that’s one factor to keeping the prestige.

The other reason is that the standards of our juries are incredibly high. People want to judge, so we can handpick the best of the best. You’re being judged by these creative heroes, which is why creatives value it so highly.

How do you make sure you’re identifying new talent and brilliant work before the rest of us do?

We work quite hard at it. An awful lot of paddling goes on beneath the surface at D&AD! We do a lot of research. We have people either in-market or operating from London who have regional knowledge and responsibilities. We look at work all the time, which is the most fun part of the job!

Obviously another big part of D&AD is nurturing young talent, which also must be a lot of fun…

That just gets better and better. New Blood is celebrating its 40th anniversary next year. John Hegarty started it, and I think we’ll make New Blood and talent our theme for the year. The whole programme has grown massively. And with the Shift program we’ve got very good at identifying talent and people with the drive and ambition to thrive in the industry who may not have found a way in beforehand.

How has the Academy itself changed over the years?

Whereas people who used to come out of those vocational art courses would be looking at advertising and design in traditional advertising agencies and design studios, it’s become much more fragmented. They’re looking at technology companies, they’re looking in-house, they’re thinking about starting their own business.

So the creative community is a much more complex and multi-faceted thing than it was 10 or 15 years ago. But our job is to serve the whole community, wherever it happens to be. We’re there for anyone who calls themselves a ‘creative practitioner’, in whatever guise.

How should agencies be reacting to these changes?

That’s the $64,000 question! Agencies always do things too late. That’s the problem. It might have been because of arrogance in the past, but now I think it’s just bandwidth. They only really change stuff when clients tell them to. When the threat is ‘do this or I’ll take my business elsewhere’. It’s true about the whole sustainability agenda, it’s true about diversity, about gender balance.

And as you say that clearly needs to change quickly. Can it?

The trouble with ‘agency land’ is that there’s never a shortage of good ideas, there’s always a shortage of resource and capabilities to execute. People have been talking about gender balance and diversity for the 40 years I’ve been in the business. Fuck all’s happened. And one of the reasons is that people start these initiatives, usually sincerely but not always, but they never join up. You’ve got people like Ali Hanan doing Creative Equals. Our view is that she’s doing a fantastic job there. We won’t try and duplicate that, what’s the point? We’ll give her a platform to execute it (and we do). But God knows how many other diversity initiatives are also out there. I find it frustrating that often our industry’s whole is much less than the sum of its parts.

Is it because there’s a lack of talent being hired from diverse backgrounds? Or is the root of the problem greater than that?

The depth and breadth of talent in the great agencies of the past was just huge. Taking Lowe as an example – but you could also pick Saatchis or BBH or CDP – there were 12 account directors that could win you a piece of business. There were 12 planners who were equally brilliant at digging up insights and driving great briefs. And in the creative department, everywhere you looked there were heavily awarded teams. The talent was just extraordinary. And that’s almost totally disappeared now. There’s now a few chiefs and then lots and lots of people not paid very well running around not learning very much.

The agency world has lost control of the business. It’s owned by Google and Facebook now. That train has left the station. And what has happened is that 20 or 25 years ago, people actually liked advertising. Because it was engaging and funny and witty. And there was this contract between the advertiser and the person. There’s still some great work, obviously. But a lot of that ethos has gone now, because advertising is waiting to ambush you on every corner, whatever you’re doing. It’s not a good look.

Well let’s end on some more upbeat points! I imagine in this role you’ve been able to meet some creative heroes – who have been some of the highlights?

Well this one wasn’t through D&AD but meeting Lee Clow was a dream. When I joined TBWA I flew to LA to meet him and he’s a God. David Lubars was also somebody I just found brilliant. Jose Miguel Sokoloff is actually a bit of a hero of mine. He’s a good friend and his agency – which Lowe bought – was absolutely fantastic. It won South America’s first ever Black Pencil for a government campaign. He’s just one of the nicest, smartest people you’ll ever meet. He’s the best company.

I’ve always liked spending time with a lot of the European ad agencies as well. Agencies like BETC. Remi Babinet is brilliant – he rarely says much, but when he does, you listen! And I must say Mother and Robert Saville I’ve also got a lot of time for. He doesn’t have much time for us at D&AD, but fair play, what a brilliant agency!

That’s quite a list of people…

Robert actually played a terrible trick on me once. I was CEO at Lowe and we had some Whitbread business. The client had taken a shine to Mother and so he held this joint ‘development day’ that both Robert and I attended. We were in the midst of doing this amazing Stella Artois work at Lowe – it was the fastest-growing grocery brand in the country – and we were talking about how long it took to get one of those ads away.

The client was teasing me saying ‘God, it takes three months just to get a script out of you lot, I’m not even sure if I like them when they do come…’ and Robert said ‘Three months!? I can write one in three minutes.’ And he fucking did! And it wasn’t bad! I told Frank (Lowe) about it and he went batshit, telling me ‘this could destroy the agency business! How can we charge them money if what we do is being undermined!?’

And finally, moving on one further from heroes, who would be the dream keynote speaker for the next D&AD conference?

That’s such a tough final question. Dan Wieden would be up there. He and his agency is a demonstration of how you can keep quality work going for decades. And how a real adherence to principle can actually create a culture that is very, very strong. Lee Clow and John Hegarty as you can probably tell I hugely admire. They’d do great talks.

I think the other I’d say is Thomas Heatherwick. Just because he’s a weird polymath. He’s a genius who’s only about 45 now but has been at the top of his game for a very long time. And I think his response for the 2012 Olympic Cauldron was incredible. From being asked for something simple and failsafe and to come up with something that had 200 moving parts was just brilliant. Everyone can learn from him.

Artwork by Guy Sexty

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