In recognition that good work is not the province of youth, this year Advertising Age is debuting its first 7-over-70 list. Our honorees not only have great accomplishments in their past, they're still deeply engaged in their work, proving that age really is just a number.
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I was lucky enough to work directly with one (David), meet another (Billet) and make the acquaintance of one of the most influential Hispanic professionals (the Orcis). Here are their bios.
David Bell, Senior adviser, Dentsu Aegis Network
David Bell is an Advertising Hall of Famer with a resume littered with accomplishments. For starters, he led two holding companies, first as CEO of True North and then as CEO of Interpublic Group of Companies in 2001 after it acquired True North. He helped create b-to-b agency Gyro. He advised AOL and Google. He was once chairman of several industry groups, including the American Association of Advertising Agencies, now known as the 4A's.
But slowing down is not in Bell's blood. "I try to go where the heat is," he says. Today, Bell is a senior adviser to Dentsu Aegis Network, visiting the holding company's offices multiple times a month. He's also a senior adviser to several startups. "I love being part of the lives of young people that are making a difference in an industry that I love," he says.
Nick Brien, CEO of the Americas at Dentsu Aegis Network, says that Bell, who declined to give his actual age, is one of a kind. "I've never met a person with the wisdom of a 70-year-old, the energy of a 50-year-old and the curiosity of a 20-year-old," he says. "I want to grow up to be just like David Bell." —E.J. Schultz
John Billet, Non-executive director, ID Comms
Known as an inventor of media auditing, John Billett, 74, says bringing the practice to the U.S. is one of his most memorable achievements. A native of Exeter, England, Billett has had a long history in the media agency industry, from his start in Unilever's media department to the founding of the media-auditing business Billetts International, which he eventually sold (and was rebranded as Ebiquity).
Billett, who says he has "banished the word retirement," from his vocabulary, is non-executive director of the media consultancy ID Comms, which ran major media reviews this year for HSBC and LVMH and recently opened an office in New York. He and his wife, Glynis Billett, also run the music management company JBGB Events, which manages and presents live jazz and classical performances.
Reflecting on his career, he mentions the song "I'm Still Here" from Stephen Sondheim's musical "Follies." "'I'm still here' is the best thing I can say about my life at the moment," he says. "I'm still doing something, I'm still making a difference, I'm still having a ball." —Megan Graham
Hector And Norma Orcí, Chairman, Orcí, Vice chairwoman, Orcí
Hector and Norma Orcí have been working together since McCann-Erickson recruited them in 1982 to open a Hispanic agency in Los Angeles. Even then, the Mexican immigrants, who had been married 18 years, were seasoned executives: He got his start at Procter & Gamble and went on to run DDB in Mexico. She was a copywriter at a Mexican agency and before that an anchor at a Mexican radio station.
In 1986, the couple negotiated a spinoff from McCann, forming what is now known as Orcí. Norma oversaw creative and Hector led accounts. "I was a creative that liked account executives—a very rare person," she jokes. "And Hector was a guy who got along with creatives, so it was an easy fit."
Orcí put itself on the map early by winning an assignment from the U.S. Immigration & Naturalization Service to promote an immigration reform law signed by President Reagan. Today, clients include Honda and Dole. Hector, 76, and Norma, 74, handed the agency reins to their son, Andrew, in 2011 but are still active in the company. "We are involved more than in charge," says Norma. —E.S.