They've removed those sombre portraits of past presidents which
used to line the staircase of the IPA's grand Belgravia home. Just as
well, really, because Bruce Haines would have stood out from that bunch
of suited sobersides like a French Connection ad in the Catholic
Here he sits, clad in trendy dark colours and tieless, amid the modern
minimalism of Leagas Delaney's new offices off London's Tottenham Court
Road, where even the spacious divans in the reception area invite you to
lie back and think of creativity.
Not the sort of agency - and certainly not the sort of agency chairman -
that would have much time for advertising's equivalent of the 'civil
service', you might believe.
What's more, you'd have thought Haines had enough on his plate at
present with the ongoing negotiations for the pounds 59 million sale of
the agency to the Toronto-based Envoy Communications, a deal now looking
But the designer gear, the decor and the deal-making belie Haines'
involvement with the agency trade body stretching back some two decades.
Moreover, he begins his two-year presidency, after his election last
week, firm in his belief that the IPA is a beast which doesn't take
kindly to radical reformation administered by painful kicks up the
backside, but needs to be led firmly but gently in the right
Expect none of the relentless cajoling of Rupert Howell, his mercurial
predecessor, who set himself a daunting array of windmills - from
under-resourced regulatory bodies to unrealistic account conflict
policies - at which to tilt.
While Howell and Haines may be philosophically at one (both are strong
advocates of income-based agency league tables and of a highly proactive
IPA), differences in style and presentation will be marked.
Certainly, there will be a tad more pragmatism and less rhetoric.
Howell, in his inaugural speech, advocated that the IPA and ISBA come
together to adopt a more common-sense approach to account conflict.
Haines, on the other hand, is prepared to leave it to market forces.
After all, he asks, if you're a financial services client wanting a
top-draw agency, where can you go unless you have a flexible attitude to
Where Howell allowed his passion for the business to be his guide,
Haines, the diplomat, is likely to take a more measured and cooler
approach. He knows the IPA's traditions are to be respected, but sees no
reason for complacency and thinks that the organisation will sink if
allowed to stand still.
Haines' manifesto may be more concise than that of the previous
president - 'I don't want it to be just a list of the blindingly
obvious' - but it has its author's stamp upon it with inclusiveness as
its overall theme and creativity at its heart.
Given that Haines, 50, has spent so much of his working life close to
the exhilarating but temperamental Tim Delaney at an agency which prizes
creativity above all else, his preoccupation with it comes as no
Nevertheless, it's unusual to hear an account man lionise creativity as
Haines does. He is genuinely bewildered that a lack of creative voices
at the highest levels of the IPA has been tolerated for so long. On the
40-strong IPA council, only Andy Cheetham, the creative director of
Manchester's Cheetham Bell JWT, and Robert Campbell, one of the founding
partners of Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R, are there to make the
To Haines, creatives are the custodians of the industry's crown
He states: 'Not only are they the producers of our product but most of
them are highly intellectual, intuitive and strategic thinkers. Hiding
them away does us all a dis-service.'
At present, creative issues are mainly the province of the IPA Creative
Directors' Forum. Under Delaney's chairmanship, the body took a
crusading stance, tackling headhunters and production companies about
the size of their bills and, more recently, under Chris O'Shea's
leadership, questioning whether the much-maligned placement system
should be scrapped.
Haines praises the forum as 'a great start', but believes it is
symptomatic of the way creative matters are dealt with at arm's length
by the IPA, rather than taken to its bosom.
True, the IPA has been attempting to bridge the gap, including looking
at how its training programmes could be extended from newly graduated
suits to include aspiring creatives. How popular this would be with
creative directors, many of whom prefer to train their own people, is a
The forum must be part of the IPA rather than an adjunct to it, Haines
argues, particularly at a time when the creative and media disciplines
are becoming increasingly polarised and most UK media independents are
fully integrated within the organisation.
'We now have a situation in which creative and media people grow up
without ever having interacted,' he says. 'Wouldn't it be better for the
IPA to be a 'crossroads' where the two sides can exchange
'Then creatives might not only better understand why it's important for
an ad to be seen at the right time, in the right place and for the right
price, but can explain to media specialists the constraints on them in
producing what's required.'
Quite how Haines' indulgence toward the creative process will square
with the revamped IPA Effectiveness Awards, to be unveiled this summer,
remains to be seen. You sense his discomfort that something as
immeasurable as creativity is being used to prove what, in many cases,
is unprovable - namely that advertising actually works.
Calls for reform of the awards reached a crescendo at the end of last
year in the wake of declining entries and interest in them by leading
agencies. A committee headed by Stephen Woodford, the WCRS chief
executive, put its views to the IPA Council last month.
Haines suggests that convincing clients that agencies are not merely
self-serving may be more important than chasing the Holy Grail of
He's also sceptical that advertising, which requires 'a leap of
imagination on one hand and a leap of faith on the other', can ever be
analysed to everybody's satisfaction.
'We're in danger of promoting all advertising as capable of being
empirically proved,' he warns. 'Yet much of the advertising we've grown
up with has been developed through people's intuition, judgment and
Moving creativity into the IPA mainstream will, Haines hopes, be his
lasting legacy as president. But there are some internal tweaks too that
he would like to make. In particular, he talks of unlocking the
expertise of the IPA's specialists and exposing them to a wider
Why, he asks, aren't its experts on everything from employment affairs
to advertising law talking not only to IPA member agencies but the media
as well, particularly at a time when the issues with which the IPA deals
grow ever more complex.
His priority, though, is a working party to examine the way the IPA
governs itself, particularly the relationship between the IPA Council
and the President's Committee - 'It's that apostrophe that bothers
This 'inner cabinet' of presidential advisors traditionally meets on the
evening before council meetings to discuss the following day's
'There's nothing wrong with executive committees - a lot of agencies
have them - but its position should be formalised,' he insists. 'It's
quite wrong to expect senior industry members to attend IPA Council
meetings merely to do some rubber-stamping.'
As to how the IPA is perceived within its constituency, Haines'
three-month opinion trawl among the communications community - now de
rigueur for all incoming presidents - throws up few surprises.
Top marks for its education and training programmes; thunderous
indifference among some younger agencies with 'attitude', who question
the IPA's relevance and fear their voices will not be heard among the
leviathians who form its core membership.
As Haines attempts to rectify this, he can do so in the knowledge that
he has a fellow traveller. When Hamish Pringle succeeds Nick Phillips as
the IPA's director-general this summer, he will renew a working
partnership that will co-exist with their long friendship.
Their links stretch back to the early 80s when the pair shared
stewardship of the Smith's Foods and Beecham accounts at Abbott Mead
Vickers and continued at the then CME KHBB and Leagas Delaney.
So will the Haines/Pringle axis at the IPA prove as pivotal as the
long-standing one between himself and Delaney? That relationship has
certainly been robust. Indeed, it proved strong enough to endure a
two-and-a-half-year interruption when Haines took time out to become CME
KHBB's chief executive.
At Leagas Delaney, Haines has been cast as 'mum' to Delaney's 'dad', one
the irrascable workaholic, barking out the orders while the other, more
measured, wipes away the tears. In the same way, Haines believes that
the different but complementary styles between himself and Pringle are
the key to their enduring connection. 'Hamish has almost a planner's
attitude to the business and to developing theories and thoughts,' he
says. 'I'm more the analytical account man.'