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
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.’