Anthony Simonds-Gooding - a tribute by Adrian Holmes
In 1993, a full page press advertisement appeared in Campaign magazine, featuring a stubby yellow pencil with an eraser stuck on the end. The headline read ‘We’ve corrected our mistakes’.
Who was owning up to their mistakes? None other than D&AD.
And who was the man responsible for correcting them? Arguably saving D&AD in the process?
Enter Anthony Simonds-Gooding. Ex-Royal Navy, ex-client extraordinaire
Hard to imagine now, but when Anthony was piped aboard the good ship D&AD by Tim Delaney in 1992, he found himself put in charge of a vessel that had hit the rocks and was making water fast.
But with his reassuring ‘commander on the bridge’ presence, Anthony steadied the ship almost overnight. I know that to be the case, because I served under him as President at the time.
On his watch, all that was wrong about D&AD was swiftly put right. Finances were untangled. A more transparent awards jury system introduced. Education programmes set up. President’s Lectures launched. An annual Festival of Excellence organised. The Book actually started coming out on time.
Lead was back in the old pencil, in other words.
Little wonder that membership soared from its disastrous ‘92 low of 650, to 1,387 just two years later - a remarkable turnaround. And today? D&AD has a million visits to its website every year and has grown into a creative community truly global in scale.
For this extraordinary legacy, D&AD owes Anthony a huge debt of gratitude.
But I believe another vote of thanks is due him, this time from the advertising industry as a whole.
For Anthony was that rarest of breeds: a senior marketer who actually believed in the power of innovative and imaginative creative work. And had the courage to say ‘yes’ when it mattered.
As Whitbread’s group managing director, he famously approved the Heineken ‘Refreshes the Parts’ campaign, in the face of highly critical research results. This act alone secured his impeccable creative credentials for all time.
Many other award-winning campaigns also saw the light of day thanks to his benign influence - browse your D&AD annuals and they’re all there, from Stella Artois, to Rawlings, to Trophy Best. As Sir Alan Parker has said, ‘he was the first client I knew who actually bought into the whole concept of fresh and original work’.
It came as no surprise to any of us that Anthony was made CBE in 2010, for services to the creative industries (and I like to think for his many years’ tireless involvement with Macmillan Cancer Relief and other charities).
On a personal note, I must also pay tribute to Anthony’s qualities as an extraordinarily warm and likeable human being.
What I’ll always remember about working with him was his sense of fun. The clue was in his inimitable sartorial style: the raffishly loud pinstripe suits, those wonderfully gaudy ties that could out-shout Jon Snow’s at a thousand yards.
And it seemed that a mischievous smile was forever playing around his lips, as though he were privy to some huge and messy practical joke that was about to go off. Yet to me he was always wise counsellor, supporter and friend.
Some have described Anthony as a tower of strength in our business.
I prefer the image of a brightly coloured maypole, around whom we in the creative community carelessly skipped and frolicked all those years.
We will miss him terribly.