NEWSMAKER/DAVID JONES: Fun seeker finds plenty to smile about at DMB&B - Adland’s funniest man is glad to be returning to the limelight, Emma Hall says

You can see why he got the job. David Jones, the new group chairman of DMB&B (Campaign, last week), has just the creative pedigree that the agency is crying out for, plus plenty of international experience at the highest level and a sophisticated, civilised charm that should help DMB&B get noticed around town.

You can see why he got the job. David Jones, the new group chairman

of DMB&B (Campaign, last week), has just the creative pedigree that the

agency is crying out for, plus plenty of international experience at the

highest level and a sophisticated, civilised charm that should help

DMB&B get noticed around town.



But the task in hand presents challenges and situations that are

unfamiliar to Jones, who is nearly 50. His experience so far has been

exclusively with creatively led agencies, and he has never dealt with a

US-dominated set-up. More than charm, experience, and a repertoire of

winning smiles, Jones will have to demonstrate power, vision and

commitment.



Jones’s immediate goals are straightforward, yet go right to the heart

of DMB&B’s problems. The rest of the group, especially IMP and the Media

Centre, is doing well, but Jones sees an urgent need to secure a good

reputation for the advertising agency, and to pull its local

new-business record out of the doldrums. ’In the short term, the agency

needs a lift - some good press and more non-packaged goods clients,’ he

states.



Put like that, his aims seem achievable, and nobody at the agency, which

held on to sixth place in Campaign’s top 30 last month, could honestly

disagree with their new boss’s implied criticism.



Jones’s management style should enable him to fit in smoothly enough

with his new colleagues. Nick Mustoe, the chief executive of Mustoe

Merriman Herring Levy, who worked with him at Lowe Howard-Spink, says:

’He manages gently to get everything where he wants it - he’s a good

operator and gets things done in a pleasant way.’



None of this is by accident. Jones does not believe in suffering to

succeed and thinks a job should be fun. He went to Leeds University to

study Economics, but found it too much like hard work, so changed to

English, which he enjoyed much more.



’Fun’, however, is not a word associated with his two years at CDP

(1991-93), when the agency lost huge chunks of billings and shed a third

of its staff to stave off bankruptcy. Jones, who took on the chief

executive’s job having spent ten years at Lowes, is satisfied that he

did the best he could in the circumstances.



Alfredo Marcantonio, now a senior copywriter at Abbott Mead Vickers

BBDO, who worked with Jones at Lowes, says: ’CDP gave him an edge and a

toughness he didn’t have before.’



Jones’s new-found toughness was next put to use back at Lowes in 1993,

but as vice-chairman of the Lowe Group, he found himself increasingly

marginalised in a European trouble-shooting role that cut him off from

the London scene, and involved a wearying amount of travel through the

’international wasteland’.



It didn’t suit Jones, who laughingly admits to being stung with

disappointment when he saw last year’s ad for the relaunch of Punch

which featured all the movers and shakers in UK advertising. His

exclusion from the line-up brought home to him just how much he had

slipped away, unnoticed, from the London scene.



Jones has an enviably glamorous lifestyle in the UK. He has a swish flat

in Belgravia and a weekend retreat in Somerset, both of which he shares

with an ex-model girlfriend whom he met through his pal, the

photographer, Terry O’Neill. He finds membership of swanky clubs like

Annabel’s and Harry’s Bar useful for client entertainment, and enjoys

golf and fishing for the scenery rather than for the competitive

challenge.



However, Jones pleads he has a very ordinary life, and frets that these

details will look ’tacky’ in print. Ordinary? Get this - he has owned

120 cars in his lifetime because changing cars is ’slightly cheaper than

changing women’.



Martin Boase of BMP DDB, from whom Jones once bought a Bentley, praises

his former colleague’s talent for making an agency noteworthy. ’Some

agencies are stylish but not fashionable or fashionable but not stylish.

David has the flair to make a place both.’



Grant Duncan, the managing director of GGT, who worked with Jones at

CDP, adds: ’He is like a rock star who has aged brilliantly - he is

still cool and groovy even though he’s an elder statesman.’



There’s something of the rock rebel in Jones, too. He was thrown out of

grammar school in Weston-Super-Mare because he wouldn’t conform. At his

next educational stop, a public school, he fitted in much better and

became a prefect and captain of the cricket team.



After university he went into advertising because it seemed ’the least

unpleasant way to make money’. He started in the late 60s at Lintas and

became known as ’razor blades’ because of his sharp humour. He moved to

BMP in 1973 before joining Lowes as a founder member in 1981.



Some former colleagues describe Jones as a ’perpetual malcontent’ who is

’always whingeing’. Jones agrees that in private he has depressive

tendencies, but these do not affect his work. He says: ’I am inclined to

dwell on negatives but that’s good because it encourages lateral

solutions.’



’Razor blades’ - described by Chris Powell, the chief executive of BMP,

as ’the funniest man in advertising’ - still finds occasion to indulge

his biting humour. He insists: ’If you think of something funny you

should say it. Bad taste is when nobody laughs.’



Jones will be hoping his local and international bosses at DMB&B share

his sense of humour; otherwise the new job might seem like very hard

work indeed.



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