Close-Up: Newsmaker - Arise, Sir John of Bartle Bogle Hegarty

campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 29 June 2007 12:00AM

The BBH co-founder John Hegarty has been made a knight for his services to advertising. He regards it as recognition of the importance of creativity in the industry, James Hamilton writes.

Advertising has always been good at awarding itself, but its top talent hasn't fared particularly well in the honours lists down the years. Perhaps that's because, despite its patina of glitz and glamour, the industry exists to service that ever so slightly grubby of professions, sales. While we British love our shopping, we really don't like being sold to.

Compare Britain with the US, where sales and marketing are regarded as art forms, and advertising has an official Hall of Fame. Just three Brits have made it into those hallowed halls - the Davids, Ogilvy and Abbott, and John Hegarty, now Sir John, the first creative to be knighted for services to advertising.

True, Sir Frank Lowe got his spurs first, but that was for his charitable endeavours. And in spite of his portfolio of companies in the business, Sir Martin Sorrell will never truly be an adman.

Hegarty, 63, received a note from the Prime Minister's office five weeks ago, informing him that the Government would like to offer him a knighthood in the Queen's birthday honours. He says his first reaction was pride, not for himself but for his industry. His second thought was: "What am I going to wear?"

It's fitting that in an industry that is still attempting to quantify exactly what creativity can achieve for its clients' bottom lines, one of its foremost creatives, not one of its business brains, should be the first adman to receive a knighthood.

And it's hard to think of anyone working in the UK ad industry today who is more deserving of such an award.

Hegarty's Bartle Bogle Hegarty co-founder and group chief executive, Nigel Bogle, says: "The ad industry is often questioned and challenged by the media, and the industry is fortunate in having John as its leading spokesman. He is, in the very best possible sense of the phrase, 'the acceptable face of advertising'. And, of course, the respect and admiration in which he is held plays a major ongoing role in the success of this company."

Hegarty's achievements as co-founder, chairman and worldwide creative director at BBH are almost impossible to catalogue: he's won every advertising award worth winning, including a case full of D&AD Pencils, Cannes Lions and BTAA Arrows.

BBH, where he still works tirelessly for clients, was the Campaign Agency of the Year three years running from 2003 to 2005 and won the Cannes Grand Prix for best agency in the world twice.

Ever modest, Hegarty plays down the level of personal achievement he's attained in winning his knighthood. "It's a fantastic honour, one that I accept graciously," he says, adding: "It reminds people that this is a creative business. These awards tend to go for business; this is for all the creative people in the industry. It's honouring the role that creativity plays in our industry and I think that's the significance of it. That's why I'm so proud to accept it."

If Bogle was at all piqued at his creative partner taking the credit, his all-staff e-mail congratulating Hegarty didn't betray it. "The citation states that he receives his knighthood for services to the advertising industry, and his contribution has indeed been quite immense. For 25 years or more, John has been the most influential and respected creative leader in the UK industry. He has been a tireless advocate and champion of what we all do and has made the case for advertising and creativity on numerous conference platforms and in countless press interviews and articles, radio and TV appearances, in the UK and all over the world," the e-mail read.

The Engine chairman and a long- time friend of Hegarty's, Robin Wight, adds: "It's enormously well deserved and it's a recognition of the role that advertising plays as a leader within Britain's creative industries and, specifically, John's role in making London, via BBH, the capital of the creative world."

Yet it almost didn't happen. Back in the late 60s, Hegarty was "booted out" of his first agency, Benton & Bowles. He recalls it was for "being a pain in the arse".

That early knock merely spurred him on to better things - in 1970, he joined Cramer Saatchi as an art director and partnered with Charles Saatchi before jumping ship for TBWA in 1973 for the position of creative director.

In the 25 years since he left TBWA to found BBH, he's been behind some of the most successful ad campaigns in the UK. It was Hegarty who came up with the enduring and iconic "Vorsprung durch Technik" line for Audi, and who, in his "launderette" spot for Levi's, turned around the fortunes of both the jeans giant, as well as countless manufacturers of boxer shorts.

His passion for Levi's remains undimmed - would he consider sporting a pair of jeans at his investiture at Buckingham Palace? "No," he laughs. "But my friend Paul Smith is already a knight, so he'll know what to wear."

OTHER ADLAND HONOURS

- John Ayling OBE

John Ayling, the founder of the independent media agency John Ayling & Associates, was awarded the OBE for services to sport.

Renowned in media circles for his tireless charitable work, Ayling, 63, is a trustee and former chairman of the Lord's Taverners charity and a former non-executive director of the England & Wales Cricket Board.

During his time at the ECB, he sat on its marketing committee alongside John Bartle and helped the cricket body negotiate three rounds of TV and radio rights, and also worked on the blueprint for the launch of Twenty20 Cricket, which has become a cash cow for the game.

He's been involved with Lord's Taverners for more than 30 years and organises an annual media cricket match that earns more than £100,000 for the charity. Ayling has also completed two marathons, pulling in £340,000 for charity.

Those who know him say the award is long overdue. Oliver Croom-Johnson, a founder of RCL Communications and a fellow cricket-lover, says: "This is absolutely deserved, but it should have been a knighthood."

Ayling says of the honour: "It's a reflection of the hard work of a team - the Taverners has become a very important media charity and has received fantastic support from its commercial committee and from the media owners." - Ian Darby

- Leslie Butterfield CBE

If admen are stereotyped as planet-sized personalities paid for momentary flashes of genius, Leslie Butterfield is a bit of an anomaly. The 55-year-old managing partner of The Ingram Partnership, who has just received a CBE for his service to the advertising industry, is better remembered among his peers for his powerful presence, brutal work ethic and vigorous activity in the cause of planning.

"Butterfield realised from the off that advertising had to get the City on its side and that planning was the only way it could," Chris Powell, a former chairman of BMP, recalls. "He focused on a brand's problem with laser-like precision and then did whatever it took to get there even if it entailed an ungodly number of focus groups in ungodly places at ungodly hours."

Butterfield joined BMP in 1975 as one of the early adopters of planning under Stanley Pollitt. Within five years, he was appointed planning director at Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, where he worked for seven years, before starting his own agency, Butterfield Day Devito Hockney, and, in 2001, Butterfield8, which was later acquired by The Ingram Partnership.

Butterfield is reflective about the CBE. "I was surprised and flattered to receive it. But will it ultimately change me? No. It's just something to be incredibly proud of." - Kunal Dutta.

This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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