I can easily imagine the scene if Leon Jaume were to meet my mother
as my new boyfriend. There would be the rolling of the eyes as the new
deputy creative director of Ogilvy & Mather dismounted his Ducatti.
There would be mutterings of ’haven’t you grown out of this yet?’ as he
shook his long hair from his helmet.
She, determined not to approve of him, would thrust a plate of devilled
eggs and vol-au-vents at him, and wait for him to put his foot in it
(metaphorically speaking, of course). And he would begin to listen and
charm. Within half an hour, she would undoubtedly and very noticeably
drag me into the kitchen and hiss, ’Marry him.’
I’m not using this to suggest my mother is a dragon, quite the opposite
in fact, but charm is the word most often used by friends and colleagues
to describe the 42-year-old copywriter. He is intelligent, witty, looks
27, is politically correct, loves opera, is a good listener and loves to
talk - albeit about anything but himself. Which makes things a bit hairy
for the journalist who has to write 1,300 words about him.
Take the first phone call to tell him Campaign wants to profile him.
’Why on earth do you want to do that?’ he laughs.
’Because you’re off the Bates Dorland list, you’ve been promoted and we
haven’t done you before,’ I reply.
’All right,’ he says, ’I’ll meet you in the Ivy at lunch.’
After three hours at his favourite lunch venue, I’ve written three lines
which proclaim: ’Jaume was born in London, has a French dad,
consequently he is a bit miffed that he can’t speak French, and has
He once did a bookies course at the London College of Printing so that
he could have a better understanding of racing form.’
He, on the other hand, knows when I lost my virginity, my political
beliefs, all about my relationship and work history. If I’d had another
glass of champagne I probably would have given him my post office
savings book and my PIN number. ’I’m sorry,’ he says as we leave the
restaurant and the waitresses wave and utter ’bye Leon!’ in unison.
’I’ll think of something to say by tomorrow.’
Fortunately, his friends and colleagues are more forthcoming with Leon
stories. ’He’s a babe magnet,’ says one.
’I would describe him as the David Gower of advertising,’ says Andrew
Robertson, managing director of Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO. ’Work wise,
he’s capable of doing really exciting things. But he’s also capable of
standing in the middle of the ground and just watching a plane go
’He has more restaurant presence than Charles and Maurice Saatchi,’ says
Rooney Carruthers, joint creative director at WCRS.
’To call Leon laid-back would be a euphemism,’ adds Roger Mavity, his
former partner at the now-defunct Mavity Gilmore Jaume.
Jaume’s capacity to drink copious amounts of alcohol but reveal no signs
of inebriation is legendary. His ability to say things like ’Bernard
Levin once said that Beethoven is brilliant, but Mozart is a conduit
from heaven’ after several drinks has to be respected.
He has the demeanour of someone who hasn’t a care in the world and just
potters about happily. Is this a cover for a secret workaholic? Well,
no. ’He’s certainly not a workaholic,’ says Robertson, who worked with
him at WCRS. ’He has always made room in his life for a bit of play. But
I think he has got more and more bound into his work at O&M.’
’He’s a great creative director,’ says Carruthers, a friend of Jaume’s
for the past 18 years. ’He’s very considerate. He’s kind, meticulous and
has a lot of patience which makes him excel as a group leader. And I’ve
never seen him lose his temper. His personality and his work are
He is the Dorian Gray of advertising and women are his hobby. But girls,
apparently he’s dreadful in bed - only joking.’
Not only does Jaume have come-to-bed eyes, apparently he exudes an
excellent bedside manner, which comes in handy with clients. ’Apart from
being excellent at listening and asking penetrating questions, Leon has
a charm that makes people, clients especially, trust, like and believe
in him,’ Robertson says.
Jaume began his career with a copywriting course at Watford. Next, he
worked at Collett Dickenson Pearce on placement. He went on to Fletcher
Sheldon Delaney with Fergus Fleming as his art director. After being
made redundant, he moved to Cogent Elliot and then to BMP. At BMP, he
’learned things’ and with these things he moved to FCO with Graeme
Norways as his new partner.
The pair then moved to WCRS, and after Norways left, Mike Shafron joined
as Jaume’s partner. They produced the lauded BMW press work, including
the ’cabriolet’, ’quarter of the time’, ’toolkit’ and ’blurred car’
executions, which set the standard for the marque’s advertising. Norways
then left and Jaume moved, in 1982, to new start up Mavity Gilmore.
Within two years he was creative director and had his name over the
’At the time a lot of people wondered why I wanted to leave WCRS and
abandon the traditional career progression to go to a new start-up. Lots
of people thought that the last thing we needed was yet another
third-wave agency,’ Jaume says. ’But I really enjoyed it. The best-known
work we did was for the Mauritius Tourist Board. The agency went through
various mergers and really I should have left after the merger with
Brooks Legon Bloomfield.’
According to Mavity, who was chairman of Mavity Gilmore Jaume and is now
chief executive of Granada Technology Group, Jaume is ’incredibly
intelligent , very astute and personable with an acute creative
’The best work he ever did with the agency was hiring and encouraging
bright young people,’ Mavity continues. ’He needs to be in an
intelligent environment whether it be account men or clients.
He needs that intellectual stimulus to encourage him. And he was the
only person in the agency not to go to Mauritius when we held the
Mike Gilmore, now chairman of Braxas, remembers Jaume as ’a charming and
very genuine man’.
’There isn’t a nasty side to him at all,’ he says. ’Although he did like
his lunches and has the ability to disappear for ages. We had a softball
team and had agency T-shirts printed. On the front of the T-shirt we
printed Mavity Gilmore and on the back printed ’Where’s Leon?’. This was
a reference to Roger’s habit of wandering through the office in the
mid-afternoon trying to track Leon down.’
After leaving Mavity, Jaume returned to WCRS as one of four creative
directors reporting to Alan Tilby and worked on the BMW, Daily
Telegraph, BBC Corporate and Prudential accounts. In November 1995, he
was poached by O&M as creative director on the Ford account. Now, as was
reported in last week’s Campaign, he has been promoted to deputy
’Ostensibly, I always have been deputy creative director,’Jaume
’I don’t think it was a case of it being rushed through because I’d had
talks with Dorlands. I wasn’t going to leave, as I didn’t feel that I
had finished my job at O&M. It’s an amazing agency at the moment.
Patrick (Collister, the agency’s executive creative director) is a joy
to work with and, I think, terribly under-rated, possibly because he is
But you just have to look at the reel for the past two years to see how
much he has done and how much energy there is in the agency.’
He adds: ’There are plenty of teams at O&M who are better then me and
I’d like to help them prove it. Being a creative director is all about
achieving a balance of what you know and how you oversee others. This
agency is going to surprise a lot of people over the next couple of
Jaume’s friends see a big future for the laid-back Lothario. ’Leon will
get poached to be creative director of somewhere big,’ predicts Ray
Barrett, old friend and creative director of Barrett Cernis Delves and
’But he won’t leave O&M until the job is done.’
This article was first published on Campaign