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Woodford leads praise at Pringle farewell party

At IPA Director General Hamish Pringle’s farewell party, held this week at London’s Royal Horticultural Hall, Stephen Woodford, Chairman and CEO of DDB London, paid tribute to the man he describes as a mix of entrepreneur, head boy and showman. See what he had to say, view the photos and watch the industry's film tribute...


View photos of the evening here .

Said Stephen: “I was lucky enough to be one of Hamish’s five Presidents, coming after Bruce Haines and before David Pattison.

It will embarrass Hamish for me to say so, but I think we would all agree he is an exceptional person. He epitomizes what a diagonal thinker looks like; and he’s been a friend and a mentor to many.

He’s your ultimate networker. Not only does he remember who you are, but who you are married to, and even the names of your children in case you’ve forgotten!

Looking back to 2001, it was no surprise to many at the time that he was asked to lead the IPA.

What was unknown was whether he would take it.

Hamish is a mix of entrepreneur, head boy and showman! And it has been these qualities that have we’ve seen in his leadership of the IPA.

The entrepreneur encouraged new ways of thinking:  as seen in the thought leadership reports that explained how to increase share of voice depending on your size of market or how to measure creativity. Or the raft of other of other initiatives coming out of the IPA. For example the diagonal thinking tool which identifies how you think, and the multi-million pound consumer centric research tool, TouchPoints.

The head boy in him looked after his Presidents, honed his team and secured the legacy of the IPA building for its members.

The showman in him wrote articles and books and made sure he was a regular
on the sofas of BBC Breakfast, Working Lunch and even Richard & Judy!

The IPA ten years ago was a different organisation. It was half the size in terms of staff and its reach in terms of committees. Hamish’s determination to hire only the very best consultants and new graduates made the IPA suddenly a force to be reckoned with and to poach staff from!

Hamish’s idea coming in as DG was for the industry’s agency associations to come together under one umbrella to present a united front to opinion formers etc. The project name was ‘Big Tent’. What the industry eventually decided was that they should work together, informally, when the need arose. If tonight’s anything to go by, he’s achieved this goal!

Thank you Hamish for your energy, your ideas and your enthusiasm.

You’re handing Paul a great trade body, which I am sure will again change to reflect the agency business as we meet new challenges.

As to what Hamish will do next… rumours abound...

Looking back, my one regret as IPA President is that I was so obviously not enough of a wardrobe challenge!

As invitation to this evening said ‘as one door closes another opens’ and that’s certainly true in Hamish’s case as he tells me his plan is to work three days a week for two thirds of the year.

He has already joined the ASA Council and he’s going to be a strategic advisor to an IPA agency to be announced shortly.

This leaves him time to pursue his art projects.  He’s already got an exhibition of his sandpapered photo-collages in Rome organised for the end of September and there’ll be the premiere of his commission of the first setting of John 1, 1-14 for orchestra and choir by Alexander Campkin to be performed at Birmingham Cathedral in November.

Oh yes, and he’s going to play a bit of golf with Vivienne!”

Stephen then presented Hamish with a symbolic gift: the IPA doorstop!

In accepting this gift Hamish responded:

“Stephen, I really very much appreciate those incredibly generous words.

And thank you to all of you who have given up your seats at Wimbledon to be here this evening!

You’re right, the IPA doorstop from 44 Belgrave Square is a symbolic gift and one of great sentimental value to me, so I’m delighted to receive it.

However, I was feeling a bit guilty about taking away such a significant piece of IPA property, so I’ve had a replacement made…

So by way of passing on the baton, I’d like to present it to my successor, Paul Bainsfair – Paul, would you join me here on stage?

I wish Paul every success as he starts his IPA journey, and if he, like me, kicks this wooden door wedge back into position by the front door when he comes in in the morning, and as he goes home at night, he'll be reminded constantly, as I have been during my time of three very important things:

Firstly that the IPA is an open house for its members and a neutral ground for debate, innovation and productive collaboration.  And it’s a meeting place for people and organisations from the many different parts of our industry who were all invited here this evening in recognition of their support:

• Journalists who have generally been very fair to the IPA, including Judie Lannon and the Editorial Board of Market Leader, and of course Claire Beale and John Tylee at Campaign.
• Politicians, Government Departments such as DCMS and UKTI, and organisations like Ofcom.
• Many other trade associations including the AA and ISBA, and all those involved in broadcasting and across the media.
• Media owners, many of whom have supported TouchPoints.
• The joint industry committees and media research organisations such as ABC, BARB, RAJAR, NRS, POSTAR , FAME , JICRIT, JICREG, JICWEBS – Paul, did I say you need a degree in ‘alphabet soup’ to do this job?!
• Sponsors such as DDS with its commitment to our qualifications and Thinkbox and WARC who have supported the IPA Effectiveness Awards long-term…
• …and all those industry experts and senior clients who have been the judges of this gold standard competition.
• And not forgetting our industry charities NABS and HAT.

My involvement with all this has been made so much easier by Pamela Perl who has done such a brilliant job of managing my office and, as she’s moving into our Marketing team full time, I’d like to thank her for all she’s done for me.

Secondly putting the wedge in place each day is a reminder that Belgrave Square is the main office for all the IPA.  It’s the home for its great team of Directors: Tessa Gooding, Lettie Hannon, Alex Hunter, Janet Hull, Richard Lindsay, Patrick Mills, John Oldfield, Lynne Robinson and Geoffrey Russell.  It’s where they, the Staff and the Consultants who work for the IPA all deliver such great service to the membership and the industry – so it needs to be a happy home for them too.

Thirdly that the door wedge also has a thin end. This should remind Paul that we have to be alert to any threats to our members and the wider industry.  Hence our strong support for the AA and the key bodies within the self-regulatory system - ASBOF, BASBOF, CAP, BCAP, Clearcast, RACC and the ASA - and our determination to maintain a free and competitive media marketplace.

The other thing of course is that the shape of the doorstop when looked at from a certain angle… it has the shape of the graphs we all like to see – ones going upwards! 

After all, our bottom line is to promote the value of IPA agencies and I’m happy to be able to say that at the end of my ten year tenure the profitability line is a little bit up overall, despite the worst recession in living memory.

So, Paul, please accept this new Belgrave Square door stop and I very much hope you’ll enjoy this wonderful job as much as I have.

Just give it a couple of little kicks each day…”

In memory of the evening each guest was also presented with a replica doorstop.

Hamish Pringle stands down as IPA Director General at the end of July 2011. He will be succeeded by Paul Bainsfair.

Last updated 01/07/2011

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