NEWSMAKER/JAY POND-JONES: Laid-back creative chief gets set for Beattie’s brio - The enigmatic GGT boss is the complete opposite of our Trev, Karen Yates says

’Trevor who?’ a polite voice enquired when I asked for Trevor Beattie at his new agency last week. The heat-seeking Trev hadn’t officially bowled into GGT by then, of course. But it makes you wonder. Does GGT really know what it’s taking on? And how will his new boss, the quiet, precise Jay Pond-Jones, survive Hurricane Beattie?

’Trevor who?’ a polite voice enquired when I asked for Trevor

Beattie at his new agency last week. The heat-seeking Trev hadn’t

officially bowled into GGT by then, of course. But it makes you wonder.

Does GGT really know what it’s taking on? And how will his new boss, the

quiet, precise Jay Pond-Jones, survive Hurricane Beattie?



Pond-Jones uses few words, his movements are economical to the point of

catatonia and, despite being creative chief of a top London agency for

two years, he’s still something of an enigma.



Beattie, on the other hand, is ... well, Beattie-like. He’s a workaholic

ball of energy. He could talk for England and he’s the sort of bloke who

hired his own personal public relations company when he walked out of

his job at TBWA last month (Campaign, 31 January).



Under the new set-up, Pond-Jones will remain the executive creative

director.



Beattie - the former creative chief of an agency 30 per cent larger - is

set to be his creative director. It’s an arrangement that both are

understandably still circumspect about.



’We haven’t really gone into the details yet,’ Pond-Jones, who was

obviously ready if not entirely prepared for this question, explains.

’You don’t take on someone of the calibre of Trev and then look over his

shoulder.



He will have autonomy on his own business.’



So, the executive creative director and new creative director still have

some working out to do. But, whatever happens, part of the deal is that

Beattie, a copywriter, will work with the art directing Pond-Jones as a

creative team - at least for some of the time. Beattie’s gusto with

Pond-Jones’s style; the newcomer’s anarchy with the old boy’s measured

approach.



’A tidal wave meeting a fixed point’ is how Tim Mellors describes the

pairing. Mellors, who first hired Pond-Jones at GGT, reckons it’ll be an

interesting relationship to watch. Pond-Jones, he says, has always

chosen extroverts with whom to team up. Their exuberance, he feels, sits

well with his self-control.



Pond-Jones is certainly a laconic individual. Variously called deep,

aloof or even arrogant, people who don’t know him well can find

conversation filled with uncomfortable pools of silence. Is he pondering

the future of advertising? Plotting how soon he can get away? Wondering

where I bought my shirt?



Tony Brignull, who was his executive creative director at DMB&B, likens

his demeanour to a gecko’s: ’He could sit for hours,’ Brignull says,

’apparently motionless. Then he blinked an eye and you said ’Yes! He is

alive, after all!’’



So, a quiet man this. Not one to betray his inner self in a casual

glance or a careless word. On the day we met for this interview, for

example, the willowy aesthete was fresh-faced and impeccably dressed. No

hint at all that he began his wall-to-wall meetings at 7.15 that morning

and that his day would not end until the small hours at yet another

model-filled party for London Fashion Week.



No hint of his wild youth in advertising, or later years on the

lunchtime trail. Pond-Jones, you see, has an iron will and the knack of

being able to distance himself from his own body.



The Pond-Jones of today doesn’t smoke, doesn’t drink and is as obsessive

about alternative health and lifestyle techniques as he once was about

more debilitating pursuits.



Acupuncture? Once a fortnight. Tai Chi and Chi Kung? Practises at

home.



His refurbished flat and his office and his car have all been feng

shui-ed and his kinesiologist has told him to keep off oranges ...



’On the fruitcake scale, I’m up there with the sultanas,’ he admits,

offering, for once, a personal observation.



Pond-Jones began in advertising at the age of 21. He’d left school and

home in west London four years earlier because the nearest night bus

stopped at Southall - a full hour’s walk away - and it was cramping his

partying style.



From humble beginnings at DWK, he moved to D’Arcy MacManus Masius which

later merged into DMB&B. Here, under the wing of the executive creative

director, Richard Barker, he became head of a group of wild young

creatives known as the brat pack.



Containing such notables as Tim Ashton and Tony Kaye, the pack were hip,

stylish and on to any trend before it happened. But after a period in

the limelight, things changed - Barker moved on to be replaced by Tony

Brignull, who found the creative loose cannons less to his taste.



’They kept thinking that they would be the hot ginger group. But I felt

no electricity at all. Not enough for a couple of 100 watt light bulbs,’

he says. Brignull stresses, though, that he genuinely likes the

undemonstrative but sensitive Pond-Jones. It’s just that he was in the

wrong place at the wrong time.



’He did some good work for Vidal Sassoon, but it was about as relevant

to DMB&B as a good design for a bicycle is for Ford,’ he says.



Pond-Jones left DMB&B to start up his own agency, Emerson

Pond-Jones.



His timing was bad, however - the recession began to bite and, despite

award-winning work for Sol beer, the agency folded only two years later

in 1991.



It was at this point that Mellors hired Pond-Jones to work with the

garrulous and outgoing Robert Saville. It was at this point, too, that

Pond-Jones decided to kick his various habits and come clean. As Mellors

puts it: ’He’s a very precise person and it’s hard to be precise when

you’re out of your head all the time.’



The Saville/Pond-Jones link-up was successful: ’Robert has thousands of

ideas and Jay’s measured way of looking at things was a very good foil

for him,’ Mellors recalls.



The pair came up with a precept that helped them break new ground - ’No

is a good answer’. Roughly translated, this means ’No isn’t the end of

it. Try another way’, and it helped the duo persuade the reluctant Paul

Merton to appear in Cussons Imperial Leather ads and Denis Leary to

front campaigns for Holsten Pils.



The relationship lasted for five years, during which time Saville and

Pond-Jones rose from group heads to joint creative directors, until

Saville left to set up his own agency, Mother, late last year.



Since then Pond-Jones has been looking for a new creative heavyweight

and it did not have to be a low-key one. For, although he enjoys the

limelight, he does not necessarily have to be dead centre of it. The

ultimate man-about-town, even Pond-Jones himself admits that ’I’m not

the loudest person at the party - but I’m usually there somewhere’.



Or, as Mellors puts it: ’Jay is always in the right group, but he’s

usually at the back of it.’



Both statements also reveal one of Pond-Jones’s all-consuming passions:

finding and living out the latest trends. He was drinking cranberry

juice 12 months before anyone else and has already moved on from last

year’s ’in’ fruit (rhubarb). We met for this interview at the Groucho

(where else?) and he became almost animated when talking about how

gerbera flowers have become all the rage.



Laughable fashion victim? No. Pond-Jones’s manner is too understated and

his designer brogues, chinos and shirt are too tasteful to quibble

with.



More likely he is what friends and colleagues suggest: a believable and

committed assessor of where the wind is blowing from.



’Jay is able to spot a trend coming from 1,000 miles,’ Saville says, a

gift that is confirmed by Barker, who describes him as ’really having

his long-range radar switched on’.



Pond-Jones has now reached the end of his meal. The goody-two-shoes has

consumed a healthy salad, some fish (minus the batter) and dessert

without the fatty bits.



It’s getting irritating.



’Caffeine?’ I enquire archly.



Unusually, a smile begins to break.



’Well,’ the Peter Pan with the iron will says, ’I thought I’d live it up

a little.’



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