The first brush Campaign had with the Chris Jaques effect was an
off-the-record talk with a secretary who’d once worked with him:
’Oooh (a squeal). He’s a lovely man. Quick, witty, sharp - a really good
The second was a quick chat with a level-headed executive who’d once
heard him speak publicly. ’Oh my God,’ she crooned, ’I thought then I’d
do anything, anything for this man.’
Over the top? Campaign thought so. So it was with a hardened heart and
an oversized pinch of salt that we set off on the trail of the man
Ammirati Puris Lintas has chosen to lead its European operations
(Campaign, 30 April).
APL’s new European president is one of a rare breed of executive -
having begun his career in the UK and made his name in Asia, he is only
now returning home to collect his pounds 200 for passing Go.
Jaques (pronounced to rhyme with ’quakes’) began his career in
advertising at D’Arcy MacManus Masius in 1979. This was not, as one
would have hoped, because of a grand passion for advertising, but - as
he cheerfully admits - because it was the only thing he could think of
that didn’t mean taking more exams.
His first faltering steps to woo adland weren’t particularly
His first boss, Chris Pinnington, was not hopeful at all for the young
trainee: ’I took one look at his application form and thought ’what a
prat’. It was all about Descartes, or something. They had to write an
essay and his was full of intellectual twaddle,’ recalls Pinnington, who
is now the managing director of Euro RSCG Wnek Gosper.
However, when the real Jaques arrived, sleeves rolled up and ready for
business, Pinnington was one of the first to fall under his spell. What
he found was an ’incredibly hard-working, deeply enthusiastic’ new
recruit who was ’bright, sensible and down-to-earth’. So much so, in
fact, that the two have since become firm friends - each was best man at
the other’s wedding.
And so it has been throughout his career to date. Jaques seems to move
around engendering bonhomie in the bosoms of all who encounter him.
After a few years charming the crowds at Masius, he moved to Lowe
Howard-Spink, joining just in time for the agency’s heady,
Then he moved to Asia, reaching the tiger economies, fortuitously, just
as they were sharpening their claws for the biggest leap forward in
recent history. Yes, Campaign can exclusively reveal Jaques is lucky as
well as likeable.
’I must be lucky,’ he admits. ’I’d love to pretend that it was good
planning to move to Asia at that time, but I’d be bullshitting.’
Again, however, things didn’t go too well at first. When he arrived at
Bates in Hong Kong as a regional account director, he found he hated the
’In those days, there was a requirement for incredibly intense hard
work, which was combined with a shortfall in professional capability,’
he says. ’I must have resigned four times in eight months.’
But providence stepped in - just as he was on the point of returning to
Lowes, the managing director of Bates’ Singapore office resigned
abruptly, leaving a Jaques-sized hole in Bates senior management. He did
not decline, and at the tender age of 30, moved across to run the
’Christ, I made some terrible mistakes,’ he recalls. But he also learned
a lot, and soon had turned a lacklustre Singaporean backwater into a
powerhouse agency. Bates rewarded him just over two years later by
naming him president of Bates Asia.
It meant a return to Hong Kong, but by now Jaques was ready for it.
’Hong Kong is like a mad, crazy tide which washes everyone around. If
you get under it, it’s difficult to pull yourself back to the surface,
but if you’re on top, it’s a great ride,’ he says.
Jaques tells his story with refreshing candour, and an infectious
Not only that, but he has a kind of warm humour that never seems to be
at anyone else’s expense. (Well, almost never. He did recall from his
first day at Masius: ’Pinnington gave me some Weetabix trade ads to do
and then buggered off for a long lunch.’) Could it be that Jaques
genuinely is nice, as well as capable and lucky?
In any event, back in Hong Kong, the Midas touch did not fail him. Under
his wing, Bates Asia rose to become agency of the year - twice - and
began to dominate the region’s creative award circuit.
But after ten years at Bates, the travel bug which had nibbled at his
insides before he reached Asia began playing up again. So he jacked in
his job, bought a four-wheel drive, and prepared, with his wife and two
young kids, to embark on a year of camping around Africa.
Two weeks before they were due to leave, however, the telephone
It was Jean Michel Goudard. He’d heard about Jaques quitting Bates, and
wanted to know if he would like to go and and run Asia Pacific for
Serendipity had, yet again, thrown a pearl his way. The family set off
on a truncated four-month trip and on their return Jaques set out to
make the network a force in Asia.
As this already sounds like a fairy story, you won’t be surprised to
learn that Jaques found BBDO’s mix of decentralised style and obsessive
commitment to creativity very much to his taste. During his two years as
chairman, BBDO Asia Pacific enjoyed a 50 per cent increase in
So, when the call came from APL, he wasn’t at all sure at first that he
wanted to go.
What swung it was his first meeting with Martin Puris, the man charged
with welding the creativity of Ammirati & Puris to the solid, client-led
culture of Lintas. ’Three years into the merger between Backer
Spielvogel and Bates, the wind had already gone out of its sails,’
Jaques says. But this was not the case at APL, as Jaques found when he
met Puris. ’He’s a driven man,’ he says. ’He’s so obsessed with
revitalising the network that it’s infectious.’
Puris is equally fulsome in his praise of Jaques. When he arrived four
years ago, he dismantled the international hierarchy of Lintas, saying
he did not want his understanding of the network to be filtered through
other people, and 18 of APL’s 30-strong worldwide board have since left
Now, four years into his five-year plan to turn APL around, Puris has
learned the lesson that it is not possible to keep so much power in the
centre, and has spent the last 18 months trying to put regional
management in place again.
Gunther Saupe has been appointed the president of APL Latin America, and
Ian Creasey as head of the Asia Pacific operation.
Jaques, as the president of APL’s operations in 30 different European
markets, completes the picture. Puris badly needed a charismatic
figurehead in Europe - someone to weld APL’s often sizeable agencies
across the continent into a network which is secure in its creative
identity. Oh, and he needs to pull in more business too.
With Jaques, Puris is sure he’s found the last piece of the jigsaw:
’This is the first time I feel comfortable with all the people in my
management group,’ he says. ’Jaques has got a real understanding of the
creative product; a genuine intellect, great energy and he’s very good
with people. Even better, he’s good at making people want to participate
in the journey. He feels like a real leader to me.’
Well Martin, almost everyone else in the world seems to agree with
Angus Fear, who worked with Jaques at Masius, goes so far as to say of
him: ’He combines integrity and approachability with a sense of fun to
make him a genuine motivational force.’
So there you have it: Chris Jaques really has left a saintly trail of
commercial successes and personal goodwill behind him. He has his work
cut out, of course, if he’s to make APL a real force here. But if he
achieves it in the diverse, mature and difficult markets of Europe,
advertising’s equivalent of canonisation can only be a short step away.