CAMPAIGNDIRECT: PROFILE DAVID PAYNE - Tequila chief returns to nuts and bolts/He’s hanging up his managerial boots for consultancy and good country living, Robert Dwek hears

David Payne, the outgoing joint chairman and chief executive of Tequila Payne Stracey, has been playing the part of an agency bigwig for quite a while now. His guiding hand has turned what was a sizeable direct marketing agency into a much more significant direct promotions giant, owned by, and with valuable access to, the Omnicom network.

David Payne, the outgoing joint chairman and chief executive of

Tequila Payne Stracey, has been playing the part of an agency bigwig for

quite a while now. His guiding hand has turned what was a sizeable

direct marketing agency into a much more significant direct promotions

giant, owned by, and with valuable access to, the Omnicom network.



But now that his earn-out with Omnicom is complete, Payne has decided to

hand over the reins and take the road less travelled. In his own words,

’by working as a consultant to TBWA, initially on its Nissan Europe

account, I’ll be able to get away from all the managerial hassles which

distract you from the nuts and bolts of this business. I never saw

myself as a corporate executive.’ He’ll also be chairing the Institute

of Direct Marketing, which he likens to a young company about to go

through a rapid growth phase. In addition, there are several other

direct marketing companies in which Payne has a stake and which he’ll

continue to influence.



With a farm in the New Forest and plenty of dosh from Omnicom, Payne

surely must be in a good position to take early retirement. But this, he

says, was not an option because ’I like this business; I’m fascinated by

the way it’s evolving; and I suppose I also feel a sense of duty to give

something back’.



Asked about non-work interests, he struggles a bit before mentioning the

farm and sailing. By contrast, when discussing his new Nissan

consultancy role, he remarks that ’cars are one of my first passions’.

And he talks animatedly about the potential for the IDM’s courses to

become a shorthand for excellence in direct marketing.



Payne can seem a bit teacherly, but mostly he comes across as the calm,

straightforward, nice guy type. If he has made enemies on the way up,

neither he nor they are saying. Industry colleagues describe Payne as

’very sound’ and ’a likeable guy’ and other such epithets. In fact the

only time Payne starts to sound a bit wild and crazy is when he compares

himself to his partner, Andrew Stracey, whom he describes as ’a very,

very cautious, cup-half-empty type’.



Like many in the agency world, Payne began his marketing career on the

client side, working first at Heinz, where he oversaw the Bovril brand,

and then at United Biscuits. But he crossed the great divide by moving

to Ogilvy & Mather. He was in the sexy ad agency world but his

recollection of the job is more mundane: ’I was the boring client guy

who came in to do the analysis,’ he only half-jokes. A move from there

to French Gold Abbott allowed Payne to ’get an understanding of

creativity’ from David Abbott, whom he still regards as ’the eminence of

advertising, in the sense that he is probably the most complete

advertising man I’ve ever met. He could do every job.’



The sale of FGA to Kenyon & Eckhart (later to merge with Bozell)

provided Payne with a golden opportunity. His new employer sent him to

its New York office where he worked on direct marketing accounts and

quickly realised how much more evolved this discipline was in the US. ’I

could appreciate why the Americans viewed the world in a different way

from ourselves. You saw the sheer scale of everything.’



He returned to the UK in 1980 to begin a four-year stint at Grey

Advertising, which he left to become managing director of Young &

Rubicam-owned Wunderman.



The key issue for direct marketing at that point, he says, was

’translating its rather odd terminology into conventional marketing

language’.



Another milestone was when Payne convinced both the AA and

Weightwatchers to use direct marketing alongside, rather than in

between, their advertising campaigns. He has remained committed to the

belief that integrated marketing is the best solution, and he has little

time for ’all those silly comments about how direct marketing was going

to take over from above-the-line. That was never going to happen.’



As for Payne Stracey, which he started in 1988 after quitting Wunderman

with Stracey, Payne says the agency was initially known for ’a sort of

strategic, business-based approach to life’. It was only later, when

Mike Cavers came along (he joined in 1996 as creative director following

the merger with TBWA Direct) that ’our creative product significantly

stepped up’.



This merger also proved timely in generating what Payne calls ’good

second-generation’ management for his agency - something which he admits

he and Stracey had failed to achieve during the agency’s independent

life.



The final building block in Payne’s growth strategy was last year’s

merger with the sales promotion agency, Tequila. This move was ’based on

an argument that said the direct marketing, sales promotion and

sponsorship businesses are all now coming together, and that size is

important’. Anticipating the number three slot, the new combine is now

actually second in its market.



But Payne is walking away from this power trip. ’That’s not why you do

it,’ he asserts. ’If I’d wanted that I could have stayed at Wunderman.’

As a self-declared business builder rather than business manager, Payne

remembers how much fun he had during the first five years of Payne

Stracey.



’We didn’t make a lot of money but it didn’t seem to matter. You get an

immense kick from winning, from building something.’



THE PAYNE FILE

1969

HJ Heinz, marketing assistant

1973

French Gold Abbott, account director

1976

Kenyon & Eckhart New York, account executive

1980

Grey Advertising, management supervisor

1984

Wunderman Cato Johnson, managing director

1988

Payne Stracey, co-founder

1996

Merged Payne Stracey with TBWA Direct

1998

Merged new entity with Tequila Option One

1999

IDM, chairman, and consultant to TBWA Europe



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