For a nice guy Ron Zeghibe has an awful cv. Well, what would you think of somebody who followed an education at Harvard and Oxford by 'accidentally' starting a merchant bank? Someone who rounded-off the 'greed is good' decade as vice-president of corporate finance at Salomon Brothers, providing M and A advice to the big boys of British industry. Add to these credentials the fact that Zeghibe this year led a management buy-in to Britain's biggest private outdoor poster company, Maiden, by conjuring £21 million from a City generally thought to be well disillusioned with the wonders of advertising. All things considered, one might be forgiven for expecting the man to be a cross between the Yuppy from Hell and one of the more carnivorous monsters of Jurassic Park.
Hence the relief of his new employees in a long-established and very family (not to say patriarchal) business to discover that 'Ron' turns out to be a rather friendly American who talks more common sense than business jargon, talks a lot more about people than profits, and is clearly less interested in a quick killing than in the long-term gains of what he calls 'a gem of a company'. Even his two big rivals in the tightly contested UK market for outdoor advertising - More O'Ferrall and Mills and Allen - might take some comfort from the appearance of a competitor who is as keen on growing the market as on taking market share.
Outdoor posters are probably the oldest advertising medium, and one which can still have a unique impact on the public mind as well as the public place. Unfortunately they attract just a measly 5% of the adman's total spend, and 75% of advertisers have never tried the medium. Now new techniques (such as Ultravision, the rotating venetian blind posters), better lighting, packages of premium sites and special research sites for test marketing are being used in the fight for a bigger share. And Zeghibe just happens to arrive at Maiden with a hand-picked team of executives who have done most to bring in these innovations. In other words, not one of those nice guys that come last. The Great Outdoors of British advertising seems set for exciting times ahead.