The man who is the message
Updated: 2011-11-03 13:50
By He Wei (China Daily)
Tim Delaney, founder and chairman of Leagas Delaney. [Photo/China Daily]
British advertising guru sees huge potential for domestic Chinese firms
SHANGHAI - It was a dark and rainy night in 2009 when Tim Delaney first landed at Shanghai's Pudong International Airport. But despite the meteorological adversity, the frequent traveler and seasoned advertiser immediately sensed the immense dynamism of the city and the enormous opportunities within it.
"I still have this picture in my mind of the first sight of the airport. It leaves me with this futuristic impression, and the way the buildings were lit up felt like the center of the earth," Delaney, 65, said.
The Briton and his business can certainly be counted as latecomers to the country's most energetic hub, but Delaney has faith that with his inspirational writing gifts, and his relatively small but talented team, he can engineer some changes to the country's flourishing advertising landscape.
Delaney founded his own advertising firm, Leagas Delaney, 31 years ago in London. With five offices across the globe, clients have included household names such as InterContinental Hotels, Timberland Boot Company and Adidas AG, among many others.
"Only 18 months ago, we originally came here for one of our clients to the Shanghai Auto Show. I was then completely taken by Shanghai, especially the environment of the city. That's when we decided to start here in China," Delaney said.
He returned the following year, when his firm helped launch a new InterContinental Hotel in Shanghai, and handled public relations activities for the Swedish government during the 2010 Shanghai World Expo. These assignments reconfirmed Delaney's commitment to the city and his China office was open by the end of the trade exhibition.
To Delaney, it was a fairly simple move from being introduced to the market, working in it for a couple of weeks and then actually settling down and enjoying the sense of growth. However, it was also a big step forward.
"It is interesting to watch China progress so remarkably. During my stay in Shanghai, I saw a lot of young people in the streets enjoying themselves. That is part of the reason why I am so engaged with it. It just felt so energetic and upbeat, and our industry needs that."
Geniuses usually don't fit into a typical pattern of systematic education. Delaney started his career aged just 15 as a messenger boy for an advertising agency but was able to move on from delivering scripts to writing for a living.
"To be honest, I don't have an interesting educational background, but I do have good writing skills even though I went to a bad school," Delaney chuckled. "Maybe my parents were intelligent enough that I inherited the ability to progress but not through the education system."
After being a senior copywriter at BBDO, the industry tycoon Omnicom-owned agency, he became creative director at 27 and managing director at 31. During his time there, he helped to introduce Sony to UK consumers.
"People don't get to choose their careers. They pick us. But the good thing is, I have real passion, and I am really good at it," Delaney said.
Maybe his adaptability has become the source from where his inspiration for words derive. One of the best pieces Delaney created was for Patek Philippe, a high-end luxury watch.
The one thing about creative thinking is to demolish stereotypes. The agency did not follow traditional watch advertising rules - namely, sign up a celebrity, show a really huge watch and slap a logo in the right hand corner.