Getting on with a partner whom you can tolerate for decades without
wanting to throttle is hard enough, but getting on with a business
partner for longer than a few years is miraculous and such miracles are
few and far between. The corporate divorce rate in this business is high
and the latest is between Bruce Haines and Tim Delaney at Leagas
This is one of those stories that will surprise everyone and no-one.
It will surprise everyone because it has happened before. In 1992,
Haines left Leagas Delaney to join the ill-fated CME KHBB, citing the
fact that his relationship with Delaney had run out of steam. So after
this latest split you might accuse him of masochism; he knew the nature
of the partnership he rejoined in 1994 all too well.
It will surprise no-one because the commonest description that you will
ever hear about Tim Delaney is that there is no doubting his commitment
or talent but he is impossible to work with because he wants to run
everything. This is founded on his record at BBDO London, where for a
while he was both the creative director and the managing director with
famously unsuccessful results and on the split with his first partner at
Leagas Delaney, Ron Leagas.
The reasons for Haines' split with Delaney in this case are more complex
because the agency has grown. In 1992, it was a hotshop operating only
in the London market.
Today it is a small international network with offices in the US,
France, Italy and Germany.
At some point in this development, the balance between Haines and
Delaney changed. At some point Haines stopped wanting to go down in
history as the only account man that Delaney had worked with for any
decent length of time and the two became estranged.
Was it when the deal with Envoy collapsed earlier this summer, thus
closing the door on a possible move for Haines to a management position
within Envoy? Was it when Haines moved into a group role, stopped
running the business day to day and inevitably lost some of his
influence because younger managers whom he had hired were keeping the
clients happy as he had once done? Was it when Haines took up his IPA
presidency and realised from his glimpses into other agencies that he
was deeply unhappy within his own?
Whatever the reasons, the relationship has run its course and Leagas
Delaney is losing a talented manager whose contribution cannot be
Over 15 years he brought to the agency a charming mixture of leadership,
vision and common sense, and all cut with a humanity that many have
found lacking in its culture.
The supreme irony would be if Leagas Delaney manages to pull off a
lucrative sale so that others would pocket the money Haines deserves to
make from the sale of an agency that he did so much to build. I hope he
has a good lawyer.