The second agency founded by what are still the world's most famous living admen, M&C Saatchi has built up a strong position for itself since formation in 1995 after Maurice and Charles Saatchi were ousted from their first agency Saatchi & Saatchi in a bitter boardroom row. Since then, M&C has risen to become one of the UK's foremost agencies, overtaking the original Saatchi business in domestic billings by the mid 2000s, and gradually establishing a global network which now stretches across 31 cities in 24 countries. Much of this expansion was achieved organically or through local joint venture partnerships. The group has a particularly strong presence in the Asia Pacific region, considerably less so in the Americas, though this was bolstered in 2014 with a minority investment in New York agency SS+K. However, the performance of individual agencies has often been stormy. M&C Saatchi Australia is one of the group's biggest after the UK but has been rocked since 2012 by a succession of big account losses and equally big gains. More serious still was the loss of M&C London's two biggest accounts in quick succession in early 2014, followed by an ill-conceived overhaul of local management. That proved disastrous, and it took several years for the group flagship to recover stability under a new team. Billings have yet to recover. Ranked as the UK's 3rd largest agency in 2007, it had slipped out of the Top 20 by 2015, before recovering to #18 for 2018. Nielsen (in Campaign) estimated billings that year of £96m. In addition to the main advertising agency, the group operates a network of satellites in the UK offering more diversified services such as PR, mobile marketing, CRM and so on. The biggest of these, Walker Media, was sold in 2013 to Publicis, becoming Blue 449. However CRM agency Lida remains, along with fashion PR Talk Global, sponsorship unit M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment, talent agency Merlin and several others. For 2018, the group reported billings of £610m, with net revenues of £255m, both best-ever figures. Net profit slipped back to £11m. The UK remains the engine room of the business, contributing more than a third of net revenues and just under half of profits. Asia & Australia is not far behind at 25% of revenues. However, a new set of problems emerged in 2019 with a decline in performance in several markets and an accounting investigation. Together these two factors promoted a dramatic plunge in M&C's share price, which halved in the space of just a single month. David Kershaw is group chief executive with Jeremy Sinclair as chairman. Giles Hedger is UK CEO. Maurice Saatchi remains an executive director of the group; his brother Charles is no longer associated with the business.
Capsule checked 13th November 2019
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Historical profile information for M&C Saatchi
Adbrands Daily Update 5th Dec 2019: M&C Saatchi's share price plunged to its lowest level in a decade following a profit warning for the current year, exacerbated by the loss of key client NatWest to The & Partnership. Underlying profit before tax is expected to come in around 25% below last year "due to weaker than expected trading in the final quarter of the year and higher than expected central costs." Earlier this week, the group offered voluntary redundancy to all UK staff in an attempt to counter the impact of the NatWest account by cutting 20 staff positions. Separately, it announced the conclusion of its internal financial investigation with an adjustment of £11.6m against profits for last year and 2019. The share price fell by over 40% this week to below 80p, compared to £3.90 as recently as March. It had regained a little ground by the end of the week after three senior managers spent around £1m to increase their own shareholdings.
Adbrands Daily Update 24th Sep 2019: M&C Saatchi's share price took another steep dive following weak results for the first half of the financial year, and a warning that its internal accounting investigation will continue until November. The agency's market valuation has more than halved since August. Net revenues for the six months to June fell 4% to £118m, while headline earnings plunged by 80% to £1m. Nevertheless, statutory reported profits more than quadrupled as a result of a large one -off gain from the sale of the group's remaining 25% stake in the former Walker Media, now Blue 449. The UK office performed well but there were sharp declines in both revenues and profits in Europe and the US.
Adbrands Daily Update 13th Aug 2019: M&C Saatchi's share price plunged this week by more than 20% to its lowest level for five years. That followed news that an internal accounting review had found errors in the statement of revenues for its UK-based operations. Almost £5m in outstanding fees were accounted for as revenues and the balance sheet included assets that were no longer used. The company said it will take a one-off charge of £6.4m in its annual results to cover the known errors plus an additional provision against possible further amounts. "We believe we have discovered the full extent of the issues," said the company in a statement, "but, to be doubly sure, the board is appointing independent advisers to undertake a review of all the group's accounts and accounting systems."
Adbrands Social Media 7th Feb 2019: "Where Everyone Plays". To support Coca-Cola's new portfolio-wide sponsorship of the English Premier League, M&C Saatchi delivers this warm-hearted tribute to all the fans who help to make the game what it is. It's Coke's first portfolio sponsorship in the UK, covering not just the flagship brand but Sprite, Fanta and all the rest. The ad's a charmer, an engaging blend of fan portraits filmed straight combined with some offbeat, even surreal touches. For example, why exactly is that piece of battered cod seemingly possessed by media pundit Jermaine Jenas? And how about the scarf-wearing snail? But our favourite bit is the hardcore Hammers: "We're West Ham. We ain't singing."
Adbrands Social Media 24th Jan 2019: "NHS 111". I think we've all been in this situation at one time or another. M&C Saatchi's first campaign for the NHS is this comedy promo for phone support service 111 which aims to take some of the pressure off accident & emergency departments and GP practices. If you've ever used it yourself, you probably know it works quite efficiently. M&C give human form to all those competing voices in your head that can't decide if that odd feeling you have is nothing at all or something really serious.
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