David Hieatt on Paul Arden: The only thing that mattered to him was everything

Published on .

The only thing that mattered to him was everything. He was about the detail, from his suit to his flowers and, of course, to his ads. He was surefire proof that obsessiveness wasn't a young man's game.

It was not easy working with him. He drove us all nuts. I remember Ajab [Singh, art director] had done a lovely idea for Goodman's. Helmut Newton had shot it. After seeing the shots he walked into our office. He didn't say anything for a minute or two. It's a long time when you're wondering whether you're either going to get fired or get a pay rise. "The shots are shit. SHIT. SHITTTT. Who's going to call him and telling you're coming back over for a re-shoot?" I remember the words now. Then he walked out and didn't speak to us for weeks.

But that was the deal with Paul. No matter how much he liked you, it was only ever about the work. The work was king.

I learnt from him. He shaped me. He shaped us all.

My last story was from the day he resigned. I heard the news while getting some toast in Charlotte Street. I didn't eat the toast. I was just too gutted.

I remember that half the department jumped for joy on the news. They were the half who were doing average work. They wanted an easy life. And Paul would never let them have one. The other half looked like someone had died. They were the hungry crowd. I could see [senior writer, group head] John Pallant's face from my office. I could see the pain on his face. It's etched on my mind even today. He knew it. We all knew it. It wouldn't be the same anymore.

Paul Arden was the spirit of the place. Saatchi's was him. It wasn't Charles or Maurice. It was Paul's agency with their name on the door.

But when that spirit walks out of building, it is never replaced. It can't be.

Here's to him.

Howies' David Hieatt
Howies' David Hieatt
Along with his wife, Claire, David Hieatt is the founder of Howies, an eco-friendly sportswear company based in Cardigan Bay, Wales. Read more about Howies from Creativity's Creative Marketers Report, read an extended Q&A with Hieatt or log on to their website at www.howies.co.uk.
Most Popular
In this article: