NEWSMAKER/CHRIS JAQUES: The charmed ascent of APL’s European president - Chris Jaques’ new APL job follows a dazzling career in Asia, Karen Yates writes

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:

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

team player.’



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

auspicious.



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,

Heineken-filled heyday.



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

place.



’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

agency.



’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

enthusiasm.



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

rang.



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

BBDO.



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

business.



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

the company.



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

you.



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.



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