Claire Beale: Why Hegarty's creative ethos remains timeless

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It's said that the British don't much like to applaud success. We'd rather shout-on the underdog than wallow in the triumphs of the victorious. But wallowing is definitely in order this week. It's time to wallow in Sir John Hegarty and his unrivalled - and continuing - contribution to British creativity.

Hegarty is having a moment. Last week, he put his name to a new scholarship at the Berlin School for Creative Leadership, worth £42,000 and open to "accomplished senior female executives in IPA member agencies". It will make a real difference to senior female creatives, of whom there are not enough. Then, this week, the Cannes festival anointed Hegarty as the inaugural recipient of its new Lion of St Mark award, which celebrates a long and outstanding contribution to creativity in communications.

But if you really want to bask in what Hegarty's done for the ad industry here, you must read his new book, Hegarty On Advertising, a slice of which you'll find on page 28.

In the book, Hegarty sets out his thoughts on the creative process and role of advertising, underpinned by the story of his career, from assistant art director at Benton & Bowles in 1955 to the creative fountainhead of one of the most respected agency brands in the world.

I doubt whether anyone's surprised that Hegarty has a scholarship named after him, or has been recognised by the Cannes festival as a creative legend, or that his thoughts and life are worthy of being captured in a lovely book. But though achievements such as these are acknowledged, it is so often in the context of the past: something that was great, that got us to where we are now, but that has little relevance to where we're going.

What's so perfectly obvious in reading the book is that Hegarty's creative ethos is timeless, as relevant in a mobile, digital advertising world as it ever was in a limited analogue one. Hegarty's very best work, a selection of which you'll find in our feature and on, remains utterly compelling, and a wonderful reminder of the continued potency of the media for which it was created.

The advertising industry is often too quick to embrace what's new and fashionable, rather than persisting with what's proven, brilliant and right. Wallowing in Hegarty's superb, analogue and thoroughly enduring work and wisdom should serve as a reminder that sometimes the best things of yesterday are the best things of today.

John Hegarty might not have had a hand in the work that Bartle Bogle Hegarty has created to promote Campaign's Big Awards, but the ads we've been running recently are a brilliant example of the creative excellence that flows through BBH right down to little clients like us. Thank you, BBH ...

Claire Beale is the editor of Campaign


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