PERSPECTIVE: Unsurprising split of Haines and Delaney will spark questions

Getting on with a partner whom you can tolerate for decades without

wanting to throttle is hard enough, but getting on with a business

partner for longer than a few years is miraculous and such miracles are

few and far between. The corporate divorce rate in this business is high

and the latest is between Bruce Haines and Tim Delaney at Leagas

Delaney.



This is one of those stories that will surprise everyone and no-one.



It will surprise everyone because it has happened before. In 1992,

Haines left Leagas Delaney to join the ill-fated CME KHBB, citing the

fact that his relationship with Delaney had run out of steam. So after

this latest split you might accuse him of masochism; he knew the nature

of the partnership he rejoined in 1994 all too well.



It will surprise no-one because the commonest description that you will

ever hear about Tim Delaney is that there is no doubting his commitment

or talent but he is impossible to work with because he wants to run

everything. This is founded on his record at BBDO London, where for a

while he was both the creative director and the managing director with

famously unsuccessful results and on the split with his first partner at

Leagas Delaney, Ron Leagas.



The reasons for Haines' split with Delaney in this case are more complex

because the agency has grown. In 1992, it was a hotshop operating only

in the London market.



Today it is a small international network with offices in the US,

France, Italy and Germany.



At some point in this development, the balance between Haines and

Delaney changed. At some point Haines stopped wanting to go down in

history as the only account man that Delaney had worked with for any

decent length of time and the two became estranged.



Was it when the deal with Envoy collapsed earlier this summer, thus

closing the door on a possible move for Haines to a management position

within Envoy? Was it when Haines moved into a group role, stopped

running the business day to day and inevitably lost some of his

influence because younger managers whom he had hired were keeping the

clients happy as he had once done? Was it when Haines took up his IPA

presidency and realised from his glimpses into other agencies that he

was deeply unhappy within his own?



Whatever the reasons, the relationship has run its course and Leagas

Delaney is losing a talented manager whose contribution cannot be

overstated.



Over 15 years he brought to the agency a charming mixture of leadership,

vision and common sense, and all cut with a humanity that many have

found lacking in its culture.



The supreme irony would be if Leagas Delaney manages to pull off a

lucrative sale so that others would pocket the money Haines deserves to

make from the sale of an agency that he did so much to build. I hope he

has a good lawyer.



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