Sir John Hegarty has been central to the global advertising scene for over six decades, but his message and passion has remained resolutely the same: when the world zigs, zag.
Alongside his day job of building one of the most respected advertising agency’s on the planet, he has travelled the world as an ambassador for the industry championing the need for creativity.
Hegarty started in advertising as a junior Art Director at Benton and Bowles, London in 1965. He almost finished with a degree in advertising 18 months later, when they fired him. He joined a small Soho agency, John Collings & Partners, which was going places. And they did - out of town.
In 1967 he joined the Cramer Saatchi consultancy which later became Saatchi & Saatchi in 1970, where he was a founding shareholder.
Hegarty left in 1973 to co-found TBWA in London as Creative Director. The agency was the first to be voted Campaign’s (the UKs leading advertising magazine), Agency of the Year in 1980.
In 1982, he left with partners John Bartle and Nigel Bogle, to start Bartle Bogle Hegarty which was soon to become one of the most talked about and awarded advertising agency ever. The agency has won every Agency of the Year accolade and every creative award possible and has been at the forefront of the industry for 31 years.
In the first two decades of BBH’s history, Hegarty was responsible for campaigns such as Levi’s ground breaking commercial starring an unknown model called Nick Kamen who stripped down to his boxer shorts in a launderette. He introduced the British to the phrase 'Vorsprung Durch Technik' for Audi, and was the first to pick a young actor called Brad Pitt to star in another commercial for Levi’s. He also pioneered the importance of music in commercials the result being the soundtracks from nine BBH commercials reaching the number one spot. Hegarty was an early adopter of viral advertising in 1999 when he launched a film for Levi’s starring a furry yellow puppet called Flat Eric online which went on to be a hit in multiple countries around Europe.
When it was time for expansion, BBH didn’t follow the pack, preferring to develop a unique version of a global network; a “micro network”. The Agency now has offices in London, New York, Singapore, Sao Paulo, Shanghai, Mumbai and Los Angeles. This global growth also contributed to the company winning the Queen’s Award for Export Achievement twice, in 1996 and 1997.
BBH has achieved success through creativity but also by its integrity. It was the first agency to implement financial transparency, a policy soon followed by the rest of the industry. From the day it opened for business, the agency has given 1% of profits to charity. Hegarty is also a 'Godfather' to participants of the Berlin School of Creativity and provides support as an industry mentor both inside and outside the classroom. He also put his name to a scholarship for female creative leaders which is in its third year. Hegarty not only sits on the advisory board of the VCU Brandcenter in the USA but also has an active role as a board member of the Design Museum in the UK and is a mentor for the Ideas Foundation, an organization which prepares young people for work in the creative industries.