Adland's relative values

By Kate Nicholson, campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 14 October 2005 12:00AM

Adland appears to be spawning a few dynasties. But, in an industry that prides itself on being meritocratic, it must be tough always having to prove that you've earned your place. Especially if your name's Delaney.

- STUART DUNCAN is a former chairman of Crawfords and his son Grant is the chief executive of Publicis.

Stuart: Grant was always very, very popular at school, but also very disruptive.

He was always in trouble. When he decided to go into advertising after university, the only thing I did to help him was give him the names of a few people at advertising agencies. In fact, he got three job offers, which was virtually unheard of: one from CDP, one from JWT and one from Leo Burnett. After his interviews, he said to me: "I don't want to work at Leo Burnett because I don't like the furniture."

I like to follow Grant's career. I stopped subscribing to the industry magazines about a year ago, but every now and then I can't resist picking up a copy and reading the latest on Grant and how his agency is doing.

The industry has changed a lot since I worked in it - in terms of size more than anything. You see these agencies being sold for billions of pounds these days; those kind of numbers just don't make any sense to me.

Grant is much more of a public-spirited person than I am. He's a member of Nabs and the IPA. I went to an IPA evening once and just remember thinking what a load of drivel.

Grant: I think moving around a lot may have been an explanation for my unruly behaviour as a child. I grew up in Singapore and spent some time in South America. I was constantly having to introduce myself to new people, but I never felt any anxiety about moving schools. I think perhaps I loved being the centre of attention.

I used to go into work with Dad quite a lot, on Saturdays. There were no Apple Macs like there are today. There were these big, colourful Magic Marker pens everywhere and lots of pads. I liked the smell of the pens.

I sense that Dad was very tough when he worked in the industry, but it was very different then; perhaps you had to be.

There were always lots of industry parties going on when I was growing up. I remember being surrounded by these very groovy people, so there was a hint of glamour about what Dad did. We even had parties at our house. I don't think that would happen now. I think ad agencies are more detached from their clients today.

I didn't tell people who Dad was, that he used to work in advertising, until about four years ago, once I was running my own agency. I only brought him out of the closet and introduced him to people in the industry very recently. I was quite secretive about it. I suppose I wanted to do it on my own merits.

- BETH BARRY is a former executive planning director at Ogilvy & Mather and her daughter Becky is the planning director at Leo Burnett

Beth: Becky is my third child but my first girl. As a child, she was what she is today really, a strange mixture of the very practical and very emotional. Things would happen like the Hoover would break and she'd fix it. She seemed to have these abilities. She was fun, gregarious, lovely.

There are things about Becky that I'm gobsmacked by. She used to have a party piece where she got down on all fours and pretended to be the cow out of the Anchor Butter ad; she even had a dance too. She was in school plays and she used to front an agency rock band. To see your daughter belting out numbers is incredible - I have no idea where that sort of courage comes from.

People often say: "Oh, you've got two children in advertising" (Her son, Tony, is a senior creative at Clemmow Hornby Inge). But I think advertising is a brilliant job, so I wasn't going to discourage them. I hope I didn't push them in anyway. I suppose it's the influence you have in your home, the things we used to talk about.

I think Becky's latest teenage road safety campaign, the one shot on the mobile phone, is fantastic. I know how passionately she fought for that and supported it. I can see the thinking behind the work she's involved in; it's not too obvious in terms of the strategies showing, but I can feel where it's come from. It makes me incredibly proud.

I think it's better that we've never worked together. We've pitched against each other, but Becky is senior in her career now and I'd probably have to work under her. I don't think I'd like that very much.

Becky: I thought Mum worked at the train station when I was little. That's what my Dad told me once when we dropped her off for work, that she was a ticket lady.

It was always good fun when I went into work with Mum. It was always quite hectic; there were huge piles of paper everywhere. I remember the office coffee machine and thinking it was very glamorous.

Our house was always very lively; we always had our friends back. Even cleaning was funny. We'd tie rags to our feet, put wax on the floor, put on some music and dance. I didn't realise it was slave labour at the time!

To start with, I think I tried to rebel against what Mum did. I did a business degree and my first job was as a junior accountant for a company called Off the Cuff, which is like Tie Rack. It was so horrendous that I left very quickly. My brother was also in advertising so I thought I had to be different. But then I went into media and got a job at MindShare. I loved that.

When I started work, people used to tell me stories about how ballsy Mum used to be at O&M. Things like: "Oh, your Mum used to give people hell in meetings." I'm most jealous of Mum's ballsiness and her ability to say what she thinks. I can't do that; I worry too much about what people think.

GREG DELANEY is the chairman of Delaney Lund Knox Warren & Partners and his nephew Caspar is a producer at RSA Films

Greg: I remember Caspar as a very charming and very pretty little boy. He's kept one of those two things. He was also probably one of the most fashionable kids I've ever seen: he had a great haircut and was always decked out in the latest and hippest clothes. His family was absolutely fantastically lively. I can see an awful lot of Caspar's mother in him; she's an immensely fun person.

People in the industry are always a bit confused by the proliferation of Delaneys and want to know which one is the brother or father (or nephew or niece) of which other one. My old partner at Delaney Fletcher Delaney and then Delaney Fletcher Bozell, Winston Fletcher, once explained to a bemused Japanese client that "Delaney is a very common name in England", which made me laugh.

I imagine, particularly for second-generation Delaneys, it can be a pain when you're fighting for credibility and you can't be out there completely on your own. People might attribute your success to your name, when, in fact, you've actually got no choice but to be called that.

When I think of Caspar's work, I think of the blood donation and the FT Weekend spots. Apart from those, I always liked the Adidas commercials that he produced for another Delaney - my brother Tim.

At work, I think both Caspar and I have very strong opinions and we're not afraid to express them. That and a lot of Irish charm. There's also a certain drive we all have, we all really want to win. Sometimes I think this might be slightly over-developed.

Caspar: I remember seeing a lot of Greg when I was growing up. We were always quite a close family, but Greg dropped in and out more than the others as his girlfriend lived with us for a while. I remember laughing a lot with him. He was a student then, so he was more like the naughty older brother who had just left school than an uncle.

I didn't make a conscious decision to go into advertising. I don't think any of us really did. It really wasn't Greg's or the other Delaneys' influence at all. To be brutally honest, it was the 80s, I was 16 and I didn't have a job. I'd been in and out of Greg's agency and my father's, Barry. I'd done some work experience and then I started at Spots Films. Without blowing our own trumpets, I think the whole family discovered we were quite good at advertising and so kept at it.

It's a very sociable industry so I think it would be wrong to say that coming from the Delaney family hasn't helped me. If it doesn't do anything, at least it breaks the ice with people. You meet people who know Greg and you've immediately got something to talk about. I've always felt there's a real meritocracy in the industry; you don't get given any favours.

RON COLLINS was a founding partner of WCRS and his son Damon is the creative director at Mother

Ron: When Damon was a child, it was like being with a small clone of myself. What I mean by that is he was very quick-witted, hard-working, determined and funny. We are so similar in many ways that some people think I trained him, I guided him. But I haven't touched him.

I have to ask Damon what he's working on to follow his work. He doesn't brag. He never calls me and says: "I've just come up with an idea for this." It's a bit frustrating.

I'm very proud of him. An ad that gets the most instant reaction from me is Damon's Famous Grouse poster campaign. When I saw it, I thought: "That's Damon. It's witty, it's simple." Sorry, I didn't mean that, I meant: "It's raw, necessary reading."

It would work well if Damon and I worked together. It's respect more than anything. He knows that if he had an idea, I wouldn't say: "Hold on a minute, who's the big cheese here?"

If I were to have my life all over again, I'd do the war path differently.

I thought there was only one way, and that was to steam roll. Damon, by nature, is able to persuade people. Someone once told him: "You're nothing like your father, you're so charming."

Damon: I remember going into work with Dad when I was about four or five years old and meeting people like James Hunt, Morecambe and Wise and Arthur Lowe, who was in Dad's Army, spectacular people, and thinking, I quite like this.

Dad used to come home late a lot, but not because he was out boozing like a lot of advertising blokes. I've never seen him drunk. It was just there was a lot of work to do. I remember trying to stay awake until he got home, and when he did, laughing a lot.

There are so many of Dad's campaigns that I love: Texaco/Havoline, the enduring nature and simplicity of the Cinzano ads, and his radio ad for Bergasol.

When I first started work, quite a few people would say: "Your father's Ron Collins, isn't he?" Then they would use expletives to describe him.

Dad left WCRS the year after I started working in advertising. I didn't want anyone to think there was nepotism involved; I wanted to prove myself without any help.

We both ended up doing the same thing as creatives. But you can't teach someone that. I think it's genetic; it wasn't as if he groomed me.

My family used to ask what I wanted to do when I left school, whether I wanted to follow in my father's footsteps. When I actually figured out I wanted to go into advertising, I had those words ringing in my ears.

All I could think was: "Bloody hell, it's a prophecy that's coming true."

This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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