CLOSE-UP: PERSPECTIVE; Is Twivy too much a rebel for a sober industry like ours?

It really doesn’t pay to stick your neck above the parapet in this frighteningly conservative business, does it? I’ve written before that, by and large, this is a pretty decent industry to work in - even deadly enemies will help each other out when the going gets really tough. It’s all because deep down, most people play the same game, and even those who rock the boat usually do so within the established parameters. But, dare to step outside those parameters, and my, the worm turns. Hence the opprobrium heaped on the heads of the likes of Adam Lury, John Farrell, Kevin Morley (although in his case much of it was excessively personal) and Paul Twivy.

It really doesn’t pay to stick your neck above the parapet in this

frighteningly conservative business, does it? I’ve written before that,

by and large, this is a pretty decent industry to work in - even deadly

enemies will help each other out when the going gets really tough. It’s

all because deep down, most people play the same game, and even those

who rock the boat usually do so within the established parameters. But,

dare to step outside those parameters, and my, the worm turns. Hence the

opprobrium heaped on the heads of the likes of Adam Lury, John Farrell,

Kevin Morley (although in his case much of it was excessively personal)

and Paul Twivy.



Twivy’s case is the most curious in that he is the least blatant

iconoclast of those mentioned above. Furthermore, he has had a good deal

of success wherever he’s been: the meteoric flourish of Still Price

Court Twivy D’Souza, the steady progress of Still Price Lintas, major

growth at J. Walter Thompson, which was completely overshadowed by the

power struggle he lost, and now a fine performance at Bates Dorland,

which began with the Compaq win, saw him try to hold together the agency

after the Mars loss (which had nothing to do with him) and then go on to

win Royal Mail, the biggest victory in Dorlands’ history, and beat off

Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO to the combined Halifax/Leeds prize. The

creative work appears safe in the hands of Tim Ashton, a Twivy

appointment. And now there is the very sensible installation of a chief

executive and managing director to share the load.



But there is a more sceptical view to be taken of last week’s news about

Graham Hinton and Chris Clark (Campaign, 26 January). On the surface,

criticism of the move seems bizarre. The best big agencies in town -

AMV, BMP DDB Needham, Saatchi and Saatchi, Lowe Howard-Spink and JWT -

have all shared one characteristic during their times of success: a

spread of senior (not necessarily old) management talent across all

disciplines. Look at AMV’s current line-up.



The reason that people will still be cynical, of course, is that it

appears to be part of Twivy’s make-up that he really needs that top job.

Described, even by senior JWT bosses, as ‘the brightest advertising

brain since Stephen King’, Twivy, like M. T. Rainey, is not content with

merely being at the top of one particular tree. Perhaps it will be his

undoing again.



The other reason for cynicism is the motive of the Bates worldwide

chairman, Michael Bungey. With Hinton and Clarke in place, he’s in a no-

lose situation. If things don’t work out with Twivy, he has a ready-made

management team in place. And, with luck, things will work out. Dorlands

will not be a dull place in the coming months. The only safe bet is that

Twivy will not be Mr Universally Popular.



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