History of Advertising Trust unveils new leader

John Gordon-Saker takes over from Richard Powell.

John Gordon-Saker: new HAT director is unveiled
John Gordon-Saker: new HAT director is unveiled

The History of Advertising Trust has picked John Gordon-Saker, a communications industry veteran with more than 30 years’ experience, as its new director.

After a career spanning brand marketing, events and the charity sector, he takes over from Richard Powell, who retires after four years in charge of the world’s largest advertising archive.

Alistair Moir, HAT’s archive collections manager, who joined the charity in 2010, is promoted to the newly created role of deputy director.

Moir has been responsible for HAT’s flagship initiative, Ad-Memoire. The programme uses famous commercials and print ads from the 1950s and 1960s to help stimulate thousands of elderly people living in care homes and those suffering from dementia.

Gordon-Saker, 67, was handed his first job in marketing at HSBC. He moved on to become marketing director of Crown Communications, the broadcasting company that owned the London radio station LBC.

In 1995 he was invited by the TV producer Tony Garnett (of Kes and Cathy Come Home fame) to establish the business media division of his independent production company World Productions.

Two years later, he moved under WPP’s umbrella as managing director of Clever Media, which brought together the disciplines of live event, film, video and interactive media.

Gordon-Saker was introduced to HAT’s trustees at their virtual annual meeting last week. He will continue working as a marketing consultant helping to promote Norwich – his home city and a few miles away from HAT’s headquarters in Raveningham – as a destination for leisure, business and the arts. He will also maintain his role as chairman of the Norwich Film Festival.

Geoff Russell, HAT’s chairman, said: "With his wealth of experience and outstanding networking skills, John is ideally placed to take HAT to the next stage of development.”

He added: “Plus, he will have the support of Alistair who not only has an outstanding knowledge of the gems in the archive but – as witnessed by his ground-breaking initiatives like Ad-Memoire – how these can be used to inspire not just the ad industry but society as a whole.”

Gordon-Saker said his decision to apply for the HAT directorship was influenced by his time as “a happy WPP employee” and his regular associations with the group’s JWT, Ogilvy and Hill and Knowlton subsidiaries.

“I just love advertising,” he added. “As chair of the Norwich Film Festival I’ve seen the power of the visual image and, as a writer myself, I’m fascinated by good copywriting’s power to persuade.”

Among his early priorities will be to put fresh impetus behind Ad-Memoire whose roll-out has been severely curtailed by Covid restrictions.

He also wants to see more deals like the one just struck between HAT and Pladis Global, owner of United Biscuits in the UK, under which the charity will manage the ad archives of the UB brands McVities, Jacob’s and Carr’s.

“I very much want to build on what Richard and his enthusiastic team have done,” he said. “I enjoy networking and I know how to pitch. My aim is to get out and speak about HAT as much as I can and have the team do what it does best."

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