Most ad folk would agree that Tim Delaney’s work for Harrods took
department store advertising to a new high in terms of creativity.
What most people don’t appreciate is that he achieved this feat thirty
It was in 1970 that Tim, a young copywriter at PKL, was first given the
Harrods brief by his creative director, Peter Mayle, then of London
rather than the Luberon.
The commercial Tim created would still impress a BTAA jury today and
bears testimony to the enduring power of a simple idea. Two tramps sit
silently on a park bench. Eventually, one speaks. ’I see ’Arrods is open
all day Saturday, then.’
Tim and his art director, David Ashwell, were promptly hired by the
fledgling Boase Massimi Pollitt, to work alongside the agency’s only
other established creative team, John Webster and Alan Orpin.
During his absence, PKL merged with BBDO and Peter Mayle succeeded in
luring him back.
This was the BBDO of Ron Brown, Mike Cozens, John Kelley, Rita Dempsey,
Phil Mason and the young Paul Weiland. An agency where John O’Driscoll
would parade in front of the Playtex account team with a bra and girdle
over his shirt and trousers. And where John Horton and Richard Foster
would frighten visitors by hanging a fully dressed shop mannequin in the
lift, with a noose around its neck.
Tim went on to become Creative Director and Managing Director and helped
establish BBDO alongside CDP, BMP and French Gold Abbott as one of
London’s top creative agencies.
Those who know him now will find it difficult to believe that the once
long-haired and velvet suited Tim was a part of BBDO’s ’Work hard, play
even harder’ culture.
History does not record whether Tim spent the summer of 1980 pony
trekking in the Damascus area, but since opening the doors of Leagas
Delaney that September his work ethic has become legendary.
’If you can’t be bothered to come in on Saturday, don’t bother coming in
on Sunday,’ he is accused of saying to a colleague. While the agency’s
1989 Christmas card read ’Due to circumstances beyond our control the
agency will be closed between 6pm on the 24th December and 9am on the
More recently, a Heineken advertisement in Campaign featured his smiling
face, itself a rare enough sight, alongside the words ’Yeah, that’ll do.
Now, let’s get down the pub’.
It’s true Tim pushes his people hard, but in my experience he pushes
himself even harder. Twenty years old this year, Leagas Delaney is
firmly established as one of the most creative agencies in the world,
largely as a result of his own writing talent.
Harrods once again features on his list of award winners, as does
Adidas, Hyundai, Pepe and Talking Pages. While his work on Nationwide
has bestowed prizes on directorial talents as diverse as Chase,
Sedelmaier and Stephenson.
Despite his decades in advertising, Tim is still enthusiastic, still
adventurous and still fiercely uncompromising. In all the years that
I’ve discussed ads with him I have never heard him say ’It’s all right’,
’It’s OK’ or ’It’s not bad, I suppose’. For Tim there is right and there
is wrong. There is good and there is bad.
Many of the industry’s greats had held the Presidency of D&AD, but it
was Tim who took the organisation by the scruff of its neck and shook it
Like fellow luminaries, John Webster and David Abbott, he is happiest
when he is creating advertising, but unlike them he is not the master of
an individual advertising medium. Tim has excelled in print as well as
television and, perhaps more than any other British writer, he has
dominated radio too.
It is hard to imagine a worthier winner of this award.