Opinion: Perspective - Bogle's success is testament to his style of play

As I write these words, this industry appears to be caught up in a mass casting session for a film based on Matt Beaumont's brilliant book e. Bust-ups, betrayals, clients dismissing agencies as awards junkies, dismissals dressed up as amicable partings ... these and other lurid tales have graced the first few pages of Campaign and this column in recent weeks.

But what of the non-combatants in the battle for the juiciest parts in this melodrama? How do "normal" people react to these revelations? Such stories directly touch the lives of so few, but for better or worse (and usually worse) they appear to shape the world we work in and around.

Of course, thankfully, that is a misapprehension. Really successful people and really successful agencies work in an altogether quieter way. I recently spent a satisfying 15 minutes with the Bartle Bogle Hegarty founder Nigel Bogle. He was addressing a bunch of the 2004 and previous years' Campaign Faces to Watch candidates. These are the aged-30 or under candidates who, disasters aside, will one day be the Mark Lunds, Cilla Snowballs, Nigel Bogles and Trista Grants of advertising.

Most people, in this situation, would start um-ing and ah-ing horribly.

Not so Bogle. His spiel was based on the notion that to be successful you have to keep it simple. Of course you do, but what exactly does that involve? He gave a few pieces of advice.

First, he advised the audience to find people and partners who complement rather than replicate their own skills.

One can see why; with Hegarty as the creative force, Bogle as the strategic force and Bartle as the planning force, B, B and H managed to achieve more together than would ever have been possible on their own.

Another great tip concerned environment. Create the environment, Bogle urged, where people can facilitate their potential. Give vision, hire people who are nice and talented and who hire others in that mould. Nominate and play up the role models in the organisation.

Hired guns and hype might be in fashion, but stability and longevity matter.

A third point concerned leadership. This industry, Bogle urged, needs more leaders. He's right. One of the reasons the ad industry has declined in stature is that it is over-managed and over-led. Too many advertising managers are dripping with ambition but lack the self-knowledge to know that leading differs from managing in that leading is about confronting issues and innovating. Managing is about hitting the numbers.

Bogle ably demonstrated one of the fundamental truths of this business - the pursuit of different agendas is ultimately destructive. The goal should always be to sell more of clients' products and services.

To prove these points I have just imposed a Bogle-style audit on the advertising world generally. Every agency is composed of people who achieve much more together than they could do alone. As for whether the rest of his points apply to most agencies, I'm less convinced. Hired guns and hype seem to me to be the order of the day for many agencies. Most organisations advocate change but do they enable it? Still, don't listen to me, listen to grown-ups such as Bogle who have actually built up one of the most admired advertising agencies on the planet. And afterwards, why not ask the questions of your own organisation?


Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus