ALL THE PRESIDENT'S PLANS: Bruce Haines takes over the reins of the IPA believing creativity forms the industry's heart. He aims to change the IPA, John Tylee says

They've removed those sombre portraits of past presidents which

used to line the staircase of the IPA's grand Belgravia home. Just as

well, really, because Bruce Haines would have stood out from that bunch

of suited sobersides like a French Connection ad in the Catholic

Herald.



Here he sits, clad in trendy dark colours and tieless, amid the modern

minimalism of Leagas Delaney's new offices off London's Tottenham Court

Road, where even the spacious divans in the reception area invite you to

lie back and think of creativity.



Not the sort of agency - and certainly not the sort of agency chairman -

that would have much time for advertising's equivalent of the 'civil

service', you might believe.



What's more, you'd have thought Haines had enough on his plate at

present with the ongoing negotiations for the pounds 59 million sale of

the agency to the Toronto-based Envoy Communications, a deal now looking

increasingly problematic.



But the designer gear, the decor and the deal-making belie Haines'

involvement with the agency trade body stretching back some two decades.

Moreover, he begins his two-year presidency, after his election last

week, firm in his belief that the IPA is a beast which doesn't take

kindly to radical reformation administered by painful kicks up the

backside, but needs to be led firmly but gently in the right

direction.



Expect none of the relentless cajoling of Rupert Howell, his mercurial

predecessor, who set himself a daunting array of windmills - from

under-resourced regulatory bodies to unrealistic account conflict

policies - at which to tilt.



While Howell and Haines may be philosophically at one (both are strong

advocates of income-based agency league tables and of a highly proactive

IPA), differences in style and presentation will be marked.



Certainly, there will be a tad more pragmatism and less rhetoric.

Howell, in his inaugural speech, advocated that the IPA and ISBA come

together to adopt a more common-sense approach to account conflict.

Haines, on the other hand, is prepared to leave it to market forces.

After all, he asks, if you're a financial services client wanting a

top-draw agency, where can you go unless you have a flexible attitude to

conflict?



Where Howell allowed his passion for the business to be his guide,

Haines, the diplomat, is likely to take a more measured and cooler

approach. He knows the IPA's traditions are to be respected, but sees no

reason for complacency and thinks that the organisation will sink if

allowed to stand still.



Haines' manifesto may be more concise than that of the previous

president - 'I don't want it to be just a list of the blindingly

obvious' - but it has its author's stamp upon it with inclusiveness as

its overall theme and creativity at its heart.



Given that Haines, 50, has spent so much of his working life close to

the exhilarating but temperamental Tim Delaney at an agency which prizes

creativity above all else, his preoccupation with it comes as no

surprise.



Nevertheless, it's unusual to hear an account man lionise creativity as

Haines does. He is genuinely bewildered that a lack of creative voices

at the highest levels of the IPA has been tolerated for so long. On the

40-strong IPA council, only Andy Cheetham, the creative director of

Manchester's Cheetham Bell JWT, and Robert Campbell, one of the founding

partners of Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R, are there to make the

creative case.



To Haines, creatives are the custodians of the industry's crown

jewels.



He states: 'Not only are they the producers of our product but most of

them are highly intellectual, intuitive and strategic thinkers. Hiding

them away does us all a dis-service.'



At present, creative issues are mainly the province of the IPA Creative

Directors' Forum. Under Delaney's chairmanship, the body took a

crusading stance, tackling headhunters and production companies about

the size of their bills and, more recently, under Chris O'Shea's

leadership, questioning whether the much-maligned placement system

should be scrapped.



Haines praises the forum as 'a great start', but believes it is

symptomatic of the way creative matters are dealt with at arm's length

by the IPA, rather than taken to its bosom.



True, the IPA has been attempting to bridge the gap, including looking

at how its training programmes could be extended from newly graduated

suits to include aspiring creatives. How popular this would be with

creative directors, many of whom prefer to train their own people, is a

moot point.



The forum must be part of the IPA rather than an adjunct to it, Haines

argues, particularly at a time when the creative and media disciplines

are becoming increasingly polarised and most UK media independents are

fully integrated within the organisation.



'We now have a situation in which creative and media people grow up

without ever having interacted,' he says. 'Wouldn't it be better for the

IPA to be a 'crossroads' where the two sides can exchange

information?



'Then creatives might not only better understand why it's important for

an ad to be seen at the right time, in the right place and for the right

price, but can explain to media specialists the constraints on them in

producing what's required.'



Quite how Haines' indulgence toward the creative process will square

with the revamped IPA Effectiveness Awards, to be unveiled this summer,

remains to be seen. You sense his discomfort that something as

immeasurable as creativity is being used to prove what, in many cases,

is unprovable - namely that advertising actually works.



Calls for reform of the awards reached a crescendo at the end of last

year in the wake of declining entries and interest in them by leading

agencies. A committee headed by Stephen Woodford, the WCRS chief

executive, put its views to the IPA Council last month.



Haines suggests that convincing clients that agencies are not merely

self-serving may be more important than chasing the Holy Grail of

advertising effectiveness.



He's also sceptical that advertising, which requires 'a leap of

imagination on one hand and a leap of faith on the other', can ever be

analysed to everybody's satisfaction.



'We're in danger of promoting all advertising as capable of being

empirically proved,' he warns. 'Yet much of the advertising we've grown

up with has been developed through people's intuition, judgment and

experience.'



Moving creativity into the IPA mainstream will, Haines hopes, be his

lasting legacy as president. But there are some internal tweaks too that

he would like to make. In particular, he talks of unlocking the

expertise of the IPA's specialists and exposing them to a wider

audience.



Why, he asks, aren't its experts on everything from employment affairs

to advertising law talking not only to IPA member agencies but the media

as well, particularly at a time when the issues with which the IPA deals

grow ever more complex.



His priority, though, is a working party to examine the way the IPA

governs itself, particularly the relationship between the IPA Council

and the President's Committee - 'It's that apostrophe that bothers

me'.



This 'inner cabinet' of presidential advisors traditionally meets on the

evening before council meetings to discuss the following day's

agenda.



'There's nothing wrong with executive committees - a lot of agencies

have them - but its position should be formalised,' he insists. 'It's

quite wrong to expect senior industry members to attend IPA Council

meetings merely to do some rubber-stamping.'



As to how the IPA is perceived within its constituency, Haines'

three-month opinion trawl among the communications community - now de

rigueur for all incoming presidents - throws up few surprises.



Top marks for its education and training programmes; thunderous

indifference among some younger agencies with 'attitude', who question

the IPA's relevance and fear their voices will not be heard among the

leviathians who form its core membership.



As Haines attempts to rectify this, he can do so in the knowledge that

he has a fellow traveller. When Hamish Pringle succeeds Nick Phillips as

the IPA's director-general this summer, he will renew a working

partnership that will co-exist with their long friendship.



Their links stretch back to the early 80s when the pair shared

stewardship of the Smith's Foods and Beecham accounts at Abbott Mead

Vickers and continued at the then CME KHBB and Leagas Delaney.



So will the Haines/Pringle axis at the IPA prove as pivotal as the

long-standing one between himself and Delaney? That relationship has

certainly been robust. Indeed, it proved strong enough to endure a

two-and-a-half-year interruption when Haines took time out to become CME

KHBB's chief executive.



At Leagas Delaney, Haines has been cast as 'mum' to Delaney's 'dad', one

the irrascable workaholic, barking out the orders while the other, more

measured, wipes away the tears. In the same way, Haines believes that

the different but complementary styles between himself and Pringle are

the key to their enduring connection. 'Hamish has almost a planner's

attitude to the business and to developing theories and thoughts,' he

says. 'I'm more the analytical account man.'



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