’If I had been a more ruthless careerist, two or three years would
have been enough.’ In all, Angus Fear spent six years running Nestle at
J. Walter Thompson before making the surprise leap to the fellow Nestle
roster agency, Roose & Partners (Campaign, last week).
’I stayed longer than I should because I was enjoying it. Life is for
living,’ he explains.
Joint managing partner at Roose isn’t a job many of Fear’s industry
peers would have fought him for. His Oxford University chum, Alan
Bishop, is chairman of Saatchi & Saatchi, and Jeremy Miles, another
friend and a former colleague, is vice-chairman of Abbott Mead Vickers
After an impressive start, Fear’s career survived a few bad decisions
which, with hindsight, he nevertheless views positively. At 29, he was
on the board at DMB&B, and then went to a thriving Abbott Mead. Four
years later, in 1989, he left to become deputy managing director of the
doomed Allen Brady & Marsh.
The agency folded into Lowe Howard-Spink within a year, but Fear was
smart enough to make sure he was one of the 12 ABM staff to survive the
merger. And he had the foresight to join J. Walter Thompson nine months
later. ’You don’t want to be on the wrong end of a merger,’ he
Even Fear’s advertising initiation, as a Leo Burnett graduate trainee,
was a bit of a rough ride. One Friday, 20 per cent of the agency’s staff
were laid off. Fear survived the cull: ’I was too cheap to lose,’ is his
explanation, but he most likely kept his job by being too useful and too
hard working for his pounds 17,000 salary.
’I was always upset he earnt pounds 200 more than me,’ Bishop, who was a
graduate trainee at Ted Bates, confides. ’But,’ he adds, ’we don’t
discuss salaries any more.’
Bishop and Fear have been friends for 25 years. Although the pair both
had long hair and platform shoes, they stood out, says Bishop, from many
of the ’fuzzy ’hi man’ types’ to be found at Oxford in the early 70s:
’Angus is very sharp and quick witted.’
After university, they shared flats in London and each was best man at
the other’s wedding. ’My best man’s speech was about how much we had
shared together - plus a bit of innuendo, of course,’ Bishop says.
So what was Fear like as a flatmate? ’Very well behaved and neat - he
got upset if his spice rack was messed up.’ But the trait that has seen
him through all his career ups and downs is optimism: ’He is never
self-pitying, which is a tremendous character strength,’ Bishop
explains. ’He always bounced back.’
Although Fear doesn’t say it, the last year at JWT must have put this
resilience to the test. Late last year, he was geared up for a move to
San Francisco but, in the end, the right offer never came through. To
make matters worse, JWT had already lined up Helen Matthews to replace
him on Nestle. This disappointment happened not long after he was
excluded from a newly created management board built around the
promotion of Stephen Carter to chief executive.
Fear is diplomatic about his time at JWT and is quick to stress that
’you couldn’t find a nicer set of accounts in London’ than those he
worked on. But many of the statements he makes in passing might be
interpreted as comments on his experiences there.
’I come from a trade background - not very JWT,’ he says, hinting at a
line of thought that suggests he wasn’t quite the right pedigree to go
all the way at JWT. Fear’s resolute enthusiasm for Abbott Mead where he
worked from 1985 to 1989, is rather telling: ’It is a very principled
environment - a delightful agency with a robust, courteous attitude to
clients where they managed to avoid the master-servant
Because his sister was at JWT, Fear turned down a graduate place there:
’I wanted to pursue my own efforts,’ he says. ’I am more cynical now but
at the time I believed in merit.’ Ouch.
Despite the odd barbed comment, Fear comes across as a man who knows his
own worth and who likes to balance quality of life with career progress.
He lives in Islington with his wife and two sons, although he and his
two sisters grew up in Bristol, the children of a factory manager and a
He has wide experience across many major UK brands, from Reckitt &
Colman to Lyons Tetley, from Sainsbury’s to Procter & Gamble, from
Imperial Tobacco to Times Newspapers.
Fear is a Europhile who spent much of his year at Lowes jetting around
the Continent co-ordinating the launch of Quaker’s Gatorade. At JWT, he
was involved with the trans-Atlantic pitch for Hilton Hotels and worked
internationally on a number of Nestle brands including Kit Kat, Lion
Bar, Smarties and After Eight.
Described by Miles as ’a good man in the trenches’, Fear is willing to
put himself on the line, and boasts a consistent new-business
Since 1981, he has played a part in winning pitches for, among others,
Post Office Counters, Madame Tussauds, Mr Kipling Frozen Cakes, Labatt
lager, the Daily Telegraph and W. H. Smith.
Won’t Roose & Partners seem a bit limited after all the variety and
opportunity that comes with working for an international network? ’Who
knows?’ Fear replies. Roose does have a European link up through Armando
Testa in Italy, but essentially it is an agency on Grays Inn Road with
’An agency’s credentials shouldn’t be about its network links - it
should be about you and your office,’ Fear asserts. The first
requirement is to be good. Export is a subsidiary issue. Roose &
Partners has what Fear calls ’headroom’ - space to grow - and also gives
him the opportunity to be a bigger fish in a smaller pond than he was at
Fear admits ’I was ripe for a move’ and is certain Roose will provide
the challenge he is looking for. He has, after all, been keeping a
professional eye on the agency in its capacity as competitor to JWT on
the Nestle roster.
And as head of the Tussauds Group business at JWT, Fear was part of the
team that won the Chessington World of Adventures account from Roose
Roose had pulled out before the final round of pitches - a decision Fear
admired. ’It enhanced my opinion of the agency. Roose believed in the
work it had done for the client and made a principled decision which is
hard when the emotional reaction is to hang on to a client at any
Fear and Roose also came up against each other a few times in the annual
inter-agency yacht race. Again, Roose impressed Fear, this time by
beating all-comers for three years in a row.
’Roose is an agency that pulls a rabbit out of the hat when it needs
to,’ Fear observes. Last year, the agency surprised the industry when it
picked up the pounds 6 million Kleenex account after pitching against
Abbott Mead, Simons Palmer Clemmow Johnson and Banks Hoggins O’Shea. And
this year, its appearance on the Caffrey’s shortlist stunned Roose’s
doubting UK rivals.
Fear himself is the latest rabbit to be pulled out of the Roose hat.
Miles points out: ’Angus is astute, trustworthy and committed to his
clients. He is a classic safe pair of hands - old school without being
Mark Robinson, the marketing director at JWT, agrees: ’Angus has got
class and he is a good operator who knows his clients well.’
Ted Roose, the chairman of Roose & Partners, has got himself a
professional, hands-on managing partner who knows the value of
networking (he’s a member of the Institute of Practitioners in
Advertising’s council) and hard work.
Once he has fulfilled his contractual obligations to JWT, Fear vows to
do his best to help Roose achieve sustained growth and an enhanced
’Onwards and upwards,’ Fear smiles, displaying the optimism that has
sustained him through his 25 years in advertising.