Obituary: Mike Baxandall, advertising executive

Mike Baxandall
Mike Baxandall
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Mike Baxandall, who has died at 71, was for four decades one of the pre-eminent figures within the Leeds advertising community.

Educated in Leeds at Roundhay Boys’ School and the College of Commerce, he had been given an unconventional introduction to the creative arts in an early role as marketing manager at Bennett’s Glass on the Armley Road.

The firm’s ad agency tried to convince him to authorise a campaign in which its safety glass would be tested by having a bullet fired directly at it, with someone standing behind.

Weighing up the risks to the company and his career, he gave the slow, but logical response, “no”. However, it was not long before he crossed the client-agency divide, and in 1973 he joined the Poulters agency as a client services director. Over the next 10 years, he helped to grow it into one of the largest and most respected in the North.

In 1983, he created his own agency with colleagues Clive Rand, Chris Allen, Tony Handley and Keith McPhail – the initial letters of their surnames spelling out BRAHM.

Adept at finding fault with his creative department’s more outlandish concepts, and with a passing nod to his preferred colour of dress, he gained the nickname Red Baron, for being able to shoot down a bad idea from a thousand yards.

It was his sense of realism that propelled him to the agency’s chairmanship in 1985. He held the position for nearly 30 years, during which time he led numerous business acquisitions and oversaw the name change to Brass, as the online and offline worlds merged and the agency reshaped itself.

At its height, it employed nearly 200 people and was the largest independent agency outside London. Mr Baxandall retired from it in 2015.

Outside work, he was a keen and highly successful sportsman, representing Yorkshire Boys at cricket as an all-rounder, and going on to play for North Leeds, the Yorkshire Bank and Knaresborough Cricket Club. He was also a talented golfer and a member of Pannal Golf Club for more than 35 years.

He played an active role in several charities, and was a trustee of the Leeds Children’s Heart Surgery Fund.

He is survived by his wife, Liz, and stepchildren, Gina, Laura and Ashley.