Does Rupert Heseltine have the look of success?

interviewing Haymarket’s chairman Rupert Heseltine this week, which touched
upon life after the recession, The Times paywall and the future of publishing,
no less, there’s one comment I’m hearing more than any other: ‘doesn’t he look
like his dad?’

You can
only imagine what it’s been like growing up in the shadow of Tarzan himself, Lord
Heseltine, but Rupert made it clear he’s fairly well used to it by now.

“It [Michael’s
presence] has been there ever since school really,” he says. “He’s my father,
so I kind of just got on with it. It’s what you know.”

imposing former deputy prime minister, most recently seen deployed by the BBC
to praise the “integrity of the Lib Dems” for “facing up to the fact that in
Government they have to make decisions”, is quite an act to follow.

By all
accounts he’d made his first million by the age of 30, before turning his hand
to politics and earning the epithet of ‘the most famous politician to
never become prime minister’.

junior admitted it had been “a bit daunting” when he first came to work for him in
1994, but added: “I’ve worked closely with him for 10 years, so I hope a lot of
those ethics and the values that he has, and his belief in the company, has
rubbed off on me.”

All modest
stuff, but with his two computer screens and 20 years in the business, he
clearly brings his own toys to the party, and as he noted himself: “He’s the
entrepreneurial starter, I’m now the second generation taking it through to the
next stage.”

Clearly my
brief foray onto the 7th floor was slightly precarious, I didn’t want it to
become a PR puff piece… I think I just about got away with it
(let me know if you disagree).

I should
say Rupert exerted no pressure regarding copy or proof requests, which is more
than I can say for half the media leaders I’ve interviewed this year. The
underlying message was loud and clear; Haymarket is looking forward.

This echoes
with what we’ve been experiencing internally over the last few months too. Buildings
in glorious Hammersmith have been redecorated with a lick of paint, new pictures hang on the walls –
Engine’s Robin Wight is the first and last thing many of us now see – and the
company Christmas party returned with a bang; the first time in three years.

Are the dog
days really over? Let’s hope so.

  • Dan

    Great post as usual Dave the idea of the ‘The Squander bugs’. A real bygone word as word.

  • Miranda Ross

    I was lucky enough to be hired as a trainee planner by Jim Williams at SJIP. That positive but honest approach was inspirational to planners too, and I’ve always been grateful to him for instilling in me exactly what you talk about – that planning isn’t bigger than advertsing

  • Dave Trott

    That’s great Miranda.
    Jim was always a favourite in the creative department for that reason.

  • Grilla Login

    Getting a Muhammad Ali involved was something special 2, Dave.

  • Dave Trott

    That’s Webster, Grilla.
    When the rest of us would sit back and relax he’d change up a gear.

  • Rob Mortimer

    I wonder though, whether the first planner given more time would have done the same thing, turned that negative into a positive.

    I agree with the sentiment though.

  • Craig Wood

    A ‘Planner’ that puts so much faith in focus groups really should be in another job.
    Focus groups should be taken with a pinch of salt, they can give you some great insights but when it comes to testing ideas we all know that many of the best ideas fail in research, 95% of human behaviour is driven by the subconscious so asking consumers what they think of ads etc isn’t always the best way to get to good ads.

  • Kevin Gordon

    The problem with focus groups is they are permitted to discuss brands and arrive at a group decision that can ruin a great idea. How many people do you see shopping in groups of twelve? Groups form peer pressure if they have the freedom to do so, but this is a post-purchase decision. If it wasn’t for a few Skinheads in the 60’s nobody would have shaved their heads, worn braces. DM’s, Loafers, Levis and Ben Sherman would have just been another pair of jeans, boots, shoes or shirts. The groups are useful to detect the opinion leaders from opinion followers. Asked individually about products, they would come up with completely different answers because there would be no peer pressure. There was an interesting documentary (think it was C4) recently about the perfume market in Brazil for Lynx. One group bombed because the KOL was a pain. The next group were brilliant because they had no-one pressuring their attitude on the others. They dumped the other group’s findings and went ahead. The new Lynx fragrance is selling its socks off because the client trusted “The Nose” not the research.