CLOSE-UP: NEWSMAKER/TOBY HOARE - Last-gasp hero looks to work wonders with Bates. He rescued Y&R, but could Bates be a crisis too far for Toby Hoare?

On his second day as group chief executive of Bates UK, Toby Hoare is to be found working out of the same modest office he once occupied as a humble account manager 15 years ago.

On his second day as group chief executive of Bates UK, Toby Hoare

is to be found working out of the same modest office he once occupied as

a humble account manager 15 years ago.



Not far away, the more spacious lair of Hoare’s predecessor, Graham

Hinton, has lain empty since he was forced abruptly to vacate it barely

48 hours earlier.



So abruptly that Hinton’s personal belongings have still to be removed

Yet the former Young & Rubicam chief executive was in no hurry to claim

the territory. Hinton, Hoare indicated, should be able to take his leave

in dignified fashion.



Critics would argue that such sensitivity has been conspicuously absent

in Westbourne Terrace in recent years, where revolving-door management

has only benefitted litigation lawyers.



There is a widespread belief that Bates UK cannot afford to get it wrong

again and that Hoare represents the best chance of restoring its self

belief and former glory.



Bullshit-free, a team player who makes his people feel good about

themselves, liked and trusted by his clients, but somebody who will not

shirk tough decisions, talk to people across the industry about Hoare

and the verdict on him is consistent. As Tim Broadbent, the Y&R planning

director, puts it: ’Toby is as straight as a die.’



Whether he would recognise these qualities in himself is an open

question.



’He has never been quick to take credit,’ observes Stevie Spring, who

worked alongside Hoare as Y&R’s managing partner. ’He’s a lot better

than he thinks he is.’



Bates UK will be a different place in his charge. ’Just because he is

affable you should never underestimate his determination,’ warns Rupert

Howell, the HHCL & Partners chairman, who hired Broadbent for Y&R.



Despite not having set foot in Bates for 12 years, Hoare, now 39, does

at least comprehend what makes it tick: ’I do understand the culture,

which is hard to define but seductive.’ He knows too that any attempt at

a quick fix will surely backfire.



Nevertheless, he is keen to hurry ahead with a 90-day initiative to

evolve a form of words - ’I’m reluctant to call it a mission statement’

- articulating what the agency does and doesn’t do, and what it could do

better.



Certainly, the place is much transformed from the then Saatchi &

Saatchi-owned DFS Dorland which Hoare left in 1987, when Dorlands had a

reputation as a deft handler of conservative clients but with a creative

output more workmanlike than leading edge.



The intervening years have been a rollercoaster ride for the agency -

from its creative flowering under Andrew Cracknell in the late 80s to

the more recent period when internal upheavals caused it to become

introspective.



Hoare believes Bates has to rediscover itself. ’This isn’t an agency

which has sought the limelight. It just got on with the job of doing big

populist campaigns for some of the country’s largest advertisers. What’s

more, it has successfully cracked retail, easily the toughest part of

the business.’



The downside is what Hoare senses is a safety-first philosophy. ’I’d

like Bates to have a slightly more sexy and dynamic proposition,’ he

says.



’The agency has a risk-averse culture. It doesn’t necessarily have to be

turned upside down - but it does need to be challenged.’



Parallels between Bates’s current predicament and the situation which

confronted Hoare when he was propelled into the managing director’s

chair at Y&R in 1994 are bound to be drawn.



’Toby was the last hope,’ a Y&R senior executive of the time

recalls.



’If he hadn’t worked out, our entire credibility in the UK would have

gone.’



’Looking back, it was scary,’ Hoare recalls. ’The place was a shambles

and yet there was huge goodwill towards us. People wanted to see us up

and running again.’



At Bates, there are some obvious questions. Will he want a group of his

own appointees around him? ’I’ve no plans to bring in anybody else. I

would rather get the best out of the people we have here.’



As for the Hinton-inspired restructure of Bates UK into a fully

integrated operation, a catharsis that proved too much for several

senior managers, Hoare believes the worst is over. ’We’re through the

pain barrier,’ he says. ’All agencies of this size have to face the

problem and Graham’s thinking was correct. Unfortunately, the way the

changes manifested themselves outside the agency led to

uncertainty.’



The other big issue is whether Hoare and Cracknell, brought back in

October to restore the agency’s creative reputation, can forge a good

relationship.



Hoare is confident that what he achieved with Mike Cozens at Y&R can be

replicated. ’I’m sure Andrew and I will have disagreements,’ he

says.



’But he is a pragmatic and articulate creative manager and those are the

skills needed here.’



Undoubtedly, Hoare will usher in a management approach markedly

different from his predecessor’s laid-back style. Hinton’s habit of

rarely turning up for a lunch date on time would be anathema to Hoare.

’Toby always knows what he has to do each day,’ says Justin Cernis, who

worked with Hoare at Y&R in the late 80s. ’He’s very ordered.’



Hoare’s manners are the by-product of an Establishment background. An

Old Harrovian with a penchant for pinstripe suits, cufflinked pink

shirts and paisley ties, he is what The Sun would call a ’toff’,

although nobody could ever accuse him of exploiting his roots.



On the contrary, he is anxious to lock them away from scrutiny along

with his private life which revolves around his wife of 13 years and

their three young children. It was because of them that he rejected two

top Y&R network jobs which would have necessitated moving to New

York.



Ever polite, he will admit only to his ’disappointment’ at finding

himself without a role after the marriage of Y&R with Rainey Kelly

Campbell Roalfe four months ago when many believe he should have had the

chairmanship of the merged agency. ’He was screwed over badly,’ a former

colleague alleges.



Hoare is more sanguine, claiming that he never regarded what happened to

him as slap in the face, but merely something which forced him to

reappraise his career path.



Whether Bates will allow Hoare to fulfil what was denied him at Y&R

remains to be seen. What’s certain is that he will tackle the task with

hard work and steely determination. ’Bates needs to be vibrant and

successful,’ he says. ’That’s important - at least it is to me!’



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