There is only one thing that gives Euro RSCG boss David Jones more pleasure than winning new business and that is getting one over on WPP’s Sir Martin Sorrell.
That is the view of Jones’ friends and former colleagues, who watched him celebrate the colossal $1.5bn (&£618m) Reckitt Benckiser (RB) win last week, an account that was previously split between the Havas-owned agency and WPP’s JWT. One observer says: “There is a distinct anti-Sorrell sentiment that he carries with him. It is almost personal.”
Catapulted onto the international stage less than 12 months ago when he was appointed by Vincent BollorÃ© (after allegedly being headhunted by Sorrell), Jones is revelling in finally establishing Euro RSCG Worldwide as a credible global network.
“It’s very important for me to change the perception of the network because we are in a unique position of being a big global network with the capability of a creative hotshop,” says Jones, reflecting on the RB win.
The outcome was a surprise for both agencies, who thought they were fighting for the Boots Healthcare International brands purchased by the household goods giant last October. The coup for Euro RSCG is being hailed as a personal win for Jones, who led the pitch.
The RB win is not the first for this “incredibly charming and handsome” chief executive. He has beaten the mighty Sorrell before – in 2004 when he saw off JWT to win Jaguar and Young & Rubicam in 2005 to triumph on the prestigious Charles Schwab account.
This latest victory proves his “consistent success record,” says Cilla Snowball, chairman of Abbott Mead Vickers.BBDO. Jones was the youngest board member at her agency before joining Euro RSCG Australia in 1998 as managing director. She believes that with his track record, he has the talent to be a significant player in the global advertising business.
Too good to be true?
Jones’ charisma is applauded by many in the industry. David Wethey, chairman of Agency Assessments, compares the affable Jones to Andrew Robertson, BBDO’s worldwide chief executive. “Like Robertson, Jones can naturally motivate people around him with his talent and exceptional operational skills,” says Wethey.
Snowball agrees and adds: “It is not impossible to be brilliant and nice in this industry and Robertson and Jones both possess these qualities.” But is Jones too good to be true? “Maybe”, says one senior advertising executive, who adds that his “smooth and slick manner sometimes comes straight out of a textbook.”
However, few can find fault with his desire to achieve success for himself and the network. “He is a man known for being rigorous, but not ruthless, in his approach. And no one gets put off by his ambitions,” says another advertising rival.
Observers also believe the fact that he works closely with the enigmatic BollorÃ© has not done Jones any harm.
Ambitious French investor
The industry has been keeping a close eye on Havas ever since the ambitious French investor bought a stake in the holding company, toppling the then chairman and chief executive Alain de Pouzilhac.
In the US, Euro RSCG New York is involved in high-profile pitches for Wal-Mart and insurance group Progressive Corp, while in the UK the London agency is on the shortlist for Morrisons’ &£22m advertising account.
It will be the quality of his network’s strategic and creative work that will be under scrutiny now.