’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
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
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
’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
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
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
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
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
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