Paul Simons: how Jeff Quilter helped to change adland

Jeff Quilter died this week after a short fight with pancreatic cancer. Jeff was an early mover in the separation of creative from implementation, that today has led to the likes of Hogarth, Zone, Tag et al.

He recognised that the old upstairs/downstairs relationship between front of house and grubby production was changing and, with the demise of the commission system, agencies needed to get much smarter at all things financial. Simons Palmer was a perfect vehicle to experiment as we were one of the first creative agencies without media in house; we had to pioneer income ideas.

Jeff’s background included agencies such as DDB, Publicis, French Gold Abbott, GGT and he found his home at Simons Palmer as the first person to join the fledgling agency in 1988.

Simons-Palmer-press-clippings3-1024x748Jeff effectively became a partner at Simons Palmer with an equity stake in the business. He oversaw the growth of the agency in terms of property management, print and TV production, studio and profit centres, in a role now called COO.

He also played a central role in the merger with TBWA, in particular the refurbishment of the Whitfield St building. He followed me to Ogilvy as operations director.

Jeff was responsible for knocking a number of young account men in to shape and many tributes have been sent including ones from Robert Senior, Colin Gottlieb, Charlie Rudd, Gerry Moira and one from Glen Fraser in Sydney who said: “It was an honour and a pleasure to work with Jeff.”

Jeff could have a gruff, no-nonsense demeanour, one that didn’t sit easily in overly polite corporate worlds, e.g. Ogilvy!. But he also earned huge respect from a wide range of people who valued his intellect and caring outlook. In my first year at Ogilvy all production, which was a huge amount, was break-even. In year two it added £2m to group profit – a result of Jeff’s work.

Jeff will never get all the credit owed for helping to change the structure of the industry but much is owed by many for his vision and ‘have a go’ mentality.’

A sorely missed friend and colleague.

(If anyone has a picture of Jeff they’d like to send to us, please do – Editor).

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