CLOSE-UP: LIVE ISSUE/THE DORLANDS SHAKE-UP; What went wrong for Paul Twivy at Bates Dorland?

John Tylee untangles the reasons behind the latest shock exit from Dorlands

John Tylee untangles the reasons behind the latest shock exit from


Litigation lawyers won’t starve while Bates Dorland is in business.

First it was Andrew Cracknell, now it’s Paul Twivy who is consulting

m’learned friends, leaving the agency to face a second spell of bad

publicity in as many years.

At 5.30pm on Tuesday last week, the Dorlands group chief executive

cleared his belongings from his office having rejected what in effect

was the group’s final offer - an alternative international job or the

sack (Campaign, 4 October).

For months the industry rumour mill had been rumbling with stories that

all was not well down Paddington way, that Twivy, 37, had been frozen

out, his position increasingly untenable.

Now the rumours have proved well founded. Dorlands has proved unsuited

to Twivy’s iconoclastic style. His departure will only reinforce the

view that while he has an abundance of talents, managing a top ten

agency isn’t one of them.

On the face of it, jettisoning him seems about as logical as throwing

the captain overboard after the ship has dodged the torpedoes.

But public performances mask internal discord and charges abound of

trust that has been abused and promises that have been broken. While

Twivy simmers - ‘I’m sad at what’s happened and very angry about the

injustice of it’ - Dorlands managers talk privately about a loner, a

tortured soul, desperate for approval and secure only when surrounded by

his own appointees.

Who should take the rap is an open question, although the failure of

Twivy and Graham Hinton, appointed as agency chairman in January, to

reach an understanding seems to have been the key. Michael Bungey, the

Bates Worldwide chairman, failed to return Campaign’s calls when asked

for comment on Twivy’s departure.

However, current events can probably be traced back to early 1994.

Bungey, forced to divide his time between the UK and New York, was

desperate to find a replacement chairman in London.

The answer came via Bates’ Saatchi and Saatchi group parent, which had

been talking to Twivy about bankrolling him in a start-up alongside Tim

Mellors and the writer/director John Lloyd.

The plan came to nothing but Twivy, a highly charismatic presenter,

impressed Maurice Saatchi and his trusted lieutenants, Bill Muirhead and

Jeremy Sinclair, who suggested to Bungey that the pair should talk.

Bungey took soundings from J. Walter Thompson, where senior managers

spoke well of Twivy even though they had denied him the chairmanship he

craved. The word was that Twivy was an excellent strategic thinker, good

at winning new business and impressive with big clients.

Twivy was appointed in February 1994 even though Cracknell, Dorlands’

executive creative director who had reluctantly been dispatched to New

York, was heavily opposed to it. The deal was that Twivy would take the

title of group chief executive with a promise of the chairmanship within

a year. Bungey would retain the chairman’s title in the meantime to keep

senior clients settled during the transition period.

Twivy lost little time in putting his mark on the agency, dismaying some

senior managers who believed that Dorlands, healthily profitable, was in

no need of fixing.

The new CEO, however, saw an agency which was losing its prowess at

attracting new business and some key clients who were indicating


The shop suffered a nightmare start to 1995 when it was stripped of its

Mars business out of revenge for Maurice Saatchi’s ousting. But it

rebounded to scoop the pounds 17 million Royal Mail task, Spillers

petfoods and the pounds 26 million account of the merged Halifax and

Leeds building societies.

However, the events of the year convinced Bungey and Michael Geraghty,

the chief operating officer for Bates Europe, that Twivy’s team -

including Tim Ashton, Cracknell’s successor as creative chief, John

Stubbings, the managing director, and Tony Taylor, his deputy, were

lacking sufficient experience and that an outside chairman should be

brought in.

Twivy interpreted the move as a vote of no confidence and threatened

resignation. But Jean de Yturbe, the Bates European chairman, diffused

the row by appointing Stubbings European client services director. A

replacement managing director would be appointed and Twivy would be

named chairman and CEO on 1 June this year.

In the end, Hinton, the former DMB&B chairman, was offered the Dorlands

chairmanship with Chris Clark from Saatchi and Saatchi as managing

director. Twivy agreed to give up some of his rights on the assurance

that he would continue as group CEO with profit and loss


In the event, it was Hinton who was given the responsibility. An

increasingly untenable situation ended with Twivy being offered the

grand title of Bates Worldwide vice-chairman and director of strategic

planning and development. He would no longer have a place on the

executive committee of the London agency or the Bates Europe board.

With his existing contract terminated as of the end of last month, Twivy

contends he has been constructively dismissed. He is understood to

believe the job offered to him was too ill-defined and didn’t play to

his skills. What will he do instead? ‘I’m not interested in going to an

existing agency,’ he says. ‘I want to try something new - but I’ll take

my time about it.’


Start Your Free 30-Day Free Trial

Get the very latest news and insight from Campaign with unrestricted access to , plus get exclusive discounts to Campaign events.

Become a subscriber


Don’t miss your daily fix of breaking news, latest work, advice and commentary.

register free