Bruce Haines, chairman of Leagas Delaney, is issuing a warning: 'The one thing I don't want this to do,' he says, when told that this will be a personal profile, 'is over-emphasise my contribution to this agency. It is grossly simplistic and insulting.'
Haines is referring to the recent press surrounding the announcement that he is poised to succeed HHCL's Rupert Howell as president of the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA), the representative body of the agency world, next April. Certain reports, he believes, have implied that he single-handedly transformed Leagas Delaney from the 25-strong London agency he joined in 1986, to the multi-national brand it is today, working for clients including Adidas, Goodyear and Clarins, in offices in London, Paris, Rome, Hamburg and San Francisco. And he doesn't want it to happen again.
Haines' voice is one of the many weapons in his powerful, and famed, armoury of charm. He is a smooth-tongued account man of the highest grade.
When he speaks, you listen. 'He is diplomatic and charming but firm,' admits one colleague. 'It is quite a talent. He doesn't take nonsense well, but rarely leaves you feeling bad.'
Haines is inclined to be self-effacing which, even as a mask to an ego, is a rare and welcome characteristic in adland. In this case, however, he is also acting in defence of Leagas Delaney's creative supremo, the famously fiery Tim Delaney. As Haines the diplomat is quick to point out, it is the partnership between these two complementary characters that has guided the agency to success.
'If you have a partner like Tim Delaney you have an incredible head start,' he says. 'There are few people of his calibre, not just in producing amazing creative work but as a strategist and business partner. We provide a balance for each other and I enjoy Tim's attitude to business nearly all the time.'
Earlier this year, Leagas Delaney's management ceded its independence and agreed to merge with Toronto-based communications group Envoy Communications.
The deal, worth about pounds 59m, has undoubtedly made Haines a rich man, subject to a four-year earn-out clause.
It is money that is likely to be well spent. Haines is known to be a man of good taste. 'I'm a suburban man with metropolitan tastes,' he quips when I ask him to describe himself. His hobbies include eating and drinking well - his favourite haunt is The Ivy - theatre and music. And he is also trendier than many of his colleagues. 'He's always been interested in fashion,' says Hamish Pringle, a former colleague and now director of marketing strategy at the IPA. 'He'll tell you fashion war stories of mods versus rockers.'
Yet it is questionable whether Haines will be able to maintain his typical adman's style - today it is a black polo neck and leather jacket - when on call as president of the IPA. As an ambassador for the advertising industry, the president is required to be on parade as a spokesman. This includes liaising with government, with client bodies and with academia.
It is generally agreed to be a demanding position. 'It is an onerous role and it takes up huge chunks of time,' says Pringle. 'But there is a trade-off - doors open and the great and the good receive you.'
Haines appears to be ideally suited to the job. He recently swapped the role of chief executive with Tim Delaney and became chairman of the agency.
He has also promoted former managing director Nick Hough to deputy chairman and in so doing ensured that there will be back-up available as he devotes more time to the IPA.
As a long-standing supporter of the IPA - he is currently honourable secretary and has also chaired the membership committee - Haines knows what he is taking on. 'It is a challenging job because of the dynamic nature of the marketplace, the pace of change and integration of web-based technologies. The IPA has to be an attractive body for new and emerging communications companies to want to join,' he says.
In many ways Haines is likely to continue where Howell leaves off. He admits that they share similar views: 'We are both modernisers, both respect the traditions of the industry and the IPA, but realise that unless it moves on it will fail,' he says.
In the past, each IPA president has tended to devote attention to key issues particularly close to their heart. So what will Haines' be? He declines to comment, but those close to him suggest that he might set out to improve communications between the creative community and the IPA.
'One of his great abilities is dealing with high-powered creative people and championing great creative work,' says one source.
During his tenure, Howell has established a position whereby the president of the IPA can speak his mind. Will Haines adopt a similar style?
'I am certainly a bit shyer than Rupert,' he laughs, 'So there could be a bit of a contrast there. However, I'm used to public speaking and that aspect of it doesn't faze me. But I think I can promise a slightly different style.'
1976-1983: Account manager, then account director, Young & Rubicam
1983-1986: Account director, then client services director, Abbott Mead Vickers
1986-1992: Managing director, Leagas Delaney
1992-1994: Chief executive, KHBB
1994-present: Chief executive, then chairman, Leagas Delaney.