Close-Up: Hayward turns 180 degrees to take up JWT challenge

In many ways, Guy Hayward's new agency is the polar opposite of what he has left behind. So is he the right man for JWT, Matt Williams asks.

It shows just how insular the London advertising scene is when the appointment of Guy Hayward as the new chief executive of JWT is met in the main with a collective "who?".

Well, for those still in the dark, Hayward worked for seven years at JWT's London and Barcelona offices before spending three more on the Nike account at Wieden & Kennedy. He then founded 180 Amsterdam and evolved it into the widely respected integrated shop that Omnicom saw fit to acquire a 50 per cent stake in three years ago.

Yet despite this impressive track record, Hayward's name was barely mentioned in the rumour mill during the ten months it took for Toby Hoare and co to choose a replacement for the outgoing Alison Burns.

Cynics might theorise that this indicates that Hayward was by no means the first choice for the job, and looking at the excruciating amount of time it took for an appointment to be made, you can perhaps understand why.

But speak to those who have worked with him and there are glowing references all round. In fact, you'll even begin to question why he hadn't been drafted in sooner.

"Guy is a great leader of large teams of people," Ivan Pollard, a partner at Naked Communications, says. "He's great at building agencies and excellent at engendering a sense of trust in people and making them feel wanted."

Hayward has contributed to the rise of a collection of well-respected agencies and a host of memorable campaigns. Take, for example, the three years he spent between 1994 and 1997 at W&K. Working on Nike, Hayward helped create the menacing "good versus evil" work, which saw Eric Cantona captain a football team against a side of mythical beasts.

And during his time at 180, he oversaw the launch of the "impossible is nothing" campaign that pitted Muhammad Ali in a boxing match against his daughter and another ad for Adidas in which David Beckham and Jonny Wilkinson traded sports.

"Great campaigns get created under Guy because he breeds confidence," one former employee says. "He's supportive and lets you go off and get on with your own thing, but he's also very professional and business-like."

So there's plenty of evidence to support JWT's choice of Hayward. But what persuaded him to give up his entrepreneurial adventure for the big, bland JWT brand? After all, he's moved from one of the most exciting creative agencies in the world to a network shop where counting the pennies is top priority.

Well, Hayward's reasons for jumping ship to JWT will, for the moment, have to remain private because there has been something of a furore surrounding his appointment. Omnicom was unhappy at some of the terms disclosed in the press release announcing his move and has put a gagging order on Hayward, as well as on any details regarding his stake in 180, which Hayward set up as part of a W&K breakaway with Chris Mendola and Alex Melvin in 1998.

The trio have already received a substantial sum from Omnicom after selling half the business in 2006. Details of the sale have never been disclosed, but it's thought that the founders are approaching the end of a fairly hefty earnout.

What's clear, though, is that just by agreeing to join JWT, Hayward has already proved he isn't afraid of a challenge. Both internally and externally, it has not been an easy few years for JWT. A number of major clients have ditched the agency and its managerial merry-go-round has made Newcastle United seem a solid proposition.

During her tenure, Burns did manage to restore some sense of credibility, helping the agency to land the £40 million Baileys pitch and hire Russell Ramsey as the executive creative director.

But there are still glaring issues that have to be addressed. For one thing, Hayward needs to broaden JWT's remit, with an investment in non-traditional advertising vital to help the agency progress.

According to Pollard, Hayward is the man to do this: "The most impressive thing about Guy is that he has always challenged and pushed beyond the advertising boundaries. He is always looking at the bigger marketing issue and is one of the few people who realise that there is a whole new world to embrace."

But Hayward will have a big challenge immediately thrust upon him here, with the impending merger between JWT and the digital agency RMG Connect. He will need to thaw the frosty relationship between the sibling companies; one insider says "the two agencies really don't have any faith or trust in each other".

And the internal politics don't end there. Hayward will also have to juggle the imbalance of power that's perceived to exist within the JWT network.

"It's like no-one has ever made a decision about the agency's direction," a JWT insider says. "It's just such a big place, with so many big egos and different levels of management that no-one so far has seemed to have the authority and personality to do it."

This means Hayward will have to quickly form bonds with global leaders, such as Hoare, but, more importantly, also with key London agency figures such as Ramsey and the head of planning, Tony Quinn. This is something Hoare believes Hayward is capable of doing. "I've always been a big believer in teams and Guy shares that view," he says. "He's collaborative by nature and is keen to make sure that by forming a relationship with Russ and Tony, we will have a management trio that can really work."

The management team doesn't end there, though. There's also Joe Petyan and Tom Vick, the two managing directors who have been running the agency since January. How will they react to the appointment and where do they stand in the pecking order now? "The reason I didn't rush into appointing a chief executive is because I wanted to give Tom and Joe time to find their feet," Hoare says. "They've both done really well and Guy is respectful of that. There's always a risk of an overlap, but Guy will be able to provide them with guidance and leadership that can benefit them and also give them more time to work on their senior client responsibilities, which is vital."

Finding more local clients will also be key to Hayward's success. Showcase creative work is thin on the ground at JWT, especially considering the sheer size and scale of the agency. This isn't necessarily for want of trying, but a global client list that includes Kellogg, Nestle and Kimberly-Clark doesn't easily lend itself to standout innovative work. Local new-business momentum will open up new creative opportunities and it's crucial that Hayward gets this going quickly.

There are plenty of people out there who think he'll pull it off. "They couldn't have hired a better chief executive; he is absolutely the business," Kate Robertson, the Euro RSCG Group chairman, says.

If Hayward is given the time and stability his predecessors weren't afforded, then there's a real chance that she may be proved right.

1987-1990: account director, JWT London
1990-92: account director, JWT Barcelona
1992-94: account director, WCRS
1994-97: account director, Wieden & Kennedy
1997-98: account director, Octagon Worldwide (sports marketing agency)
1998-2009: partner, 180 Amsterdam
2009: chief executive, JWT London