Saatchi & Saatchi

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Saatchi & Saatchi is the smallest of the three main advertising networks within Publicis Groupe. It enjoyed a strong run after its acquisition by Publicis, making the very most of its new-found security to win a string of important accounts. This finally allowed the agency to forget the troubles it had endured during the previous decade. Once the core of Maurice and Charles Saatchi's world-beating marketing empire, Saatchi & Saatchi suffered serious setbacks in the early 1990s. Uncontrolled over-expansion led to the ousting of its founding brothers, and subsequent demerger from its corporate parent Cordiant. (The Saatchi brothers launched rival agency M&C Saatchi). After a brief period of independence, Saatchi & Saatchi was snapped up by Publicis in 2000. In 2007, the network was aligned within Publicis Groupe with stablemate Fallon under the umbrella name SSF Group. Since the 2015 restructure of the parent Groupe, Saatchi has operated under the banner of Publicis Communications, yoked even more closely with Publicis Worldwide, Leo Burnett and other creative agencies.

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Recent stories from Adbrands Update:

 Adbrands Daily Update 17th Aug 2020: "Fibre. It's How We Internet Now". Saatchi & Saatchi's New Zealand outpost get the week off to a good start with a funny campaign for local internet provider Chorus. Poor Carl is suffering from bad internet, and it's ruining his day in a hundred different ways. All those different aspects of slow connections with which you and I are no doubt already familiar - including interminable load-times, pixellation and constant buffering - are deployed here in a series of great sight-gags. Lots of fun.

 Adbrands Daily Update 11th Jul 2019: Another milestone in the slow motion merger of Publicis Groupe agency brands was announced today. Most of the main agencies under the Publicis Communications banner in the US are being divided into three regional businesses, East, West and Center, each with their own CEO. Individual brands will remain for the time being, but the new structure seems to ensure their ultimate elimination. Publicis Communications West will comprise Saatchi & Saatchi's offices in Los Angeles and Dallas, as well as Team One, Conill, Publicis Seattle and Publicis Hawkeye in Dallas. Andrew Bruce, also CEO of Publicis Communications North America, will lead that division. Publicis Communications East covers the main Publicis and Saatchi & Saatchi outposts in New York as well as dedicated unit P&G One. Also digital shop Rokkan and the Saatchi X shopper agency. Jem Ripley, a former senior executive of SapientRazorfish, was named as CEO, and will also oversee digital business PublicisSapient. Leo Burnett will be the core business within Publicis Communications Center, alongside Arc, Fallon, Martin Retail Group and Turner Duckworth. Burnett's current North America CEO Andrew Swinand remains CEO.

Adbrands Social Media 2nd Aug 2018: David Beckham is so open to marketing endorsements these days we're surprised he hasn't started auctioning off what little bare skin he has left for logo branding. He's been shilling for casino operators Sands for several years in China and Singapore. Yet sadly, despite his ever increasing bank balance, his acting skills remain as wooden as ever. This latest comic epic from Saatchi & Saatchi China has him scouring late night Macao for the finest traditional egg tart. Oh well, if that's what floats your boat, Dave... 

Adbrands Social Media 21st Jul 2018: Nice change of style for Olay's advertising. Instead of the usual pack shots and studio close-ups, P&G have gone out into the world for their new campaigns, featuring women who are breaking barriers. This one - from regular agency Saatchi & Saatchi New York - features airline pilot Tristan Mazzu. Yes, it does look a bit like one of those spots where a model pretends to be a real person, but actually Mazzu is a genuine pilot for US regional carrier SkyWest, and she already has quite a significant online presence in her own right, including 8,500 followers for her official Insta account (as TristanThePilot). She's a really good pick for Olay. More like this please. 

Adbrands Weekly Update 24th Jun 2018: Cannes Lions 2018: And so Cannes Lions 2018 draws to a close. Procter & Gamble totally cleaned up in the Film category, winning an extraordinary five separate Grand Prix, though four of them were all for the same campaign. No surprise about which campaign that was. Yes, 'It's A Tide Ad' from the Super Bowl won a separate Grand Prix in Film for each of its four separate mid-game installments. Of course the official winners were P&G and prodco Rattling Stick, who jointly submitted the entries because creative agency Saatchi & Saatchi New York was barred from entering because of the Publicis Groupe awards ban. And just to cap off P&G's achievement, a fifth top prize was awarded in Film to BBDO New York's admirable diversity-themed 'The Talk' ad, part of P&G's social responsibility program. Both campaigns have been featured here in the past as Ads of the Week. 

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Free to all users | see full profile for current activities: Charles Saatchi took the first steps towards building the agency in 1967 when he and creative partner Ross Cramer left Collett Dickenson Pearce to set up their own shop, Cramer Saatchi. Although they had established a reputation as one of CDP's star creative teams, progress was comparatively slow at their new agency. However, Cramer Saatchi eventually began to attract considerable attention in 1970 for a series of blunt and provocative ads for the government's Health Education Council, including "pregnant man" and "what happens when a fly lands on your food". Cramer left the agency later the same year to become a film and commercials director, and to replace him Charles recruited his younger brother Maurice, previously an assistant publisher at Haymarket, the publishing company behind UK advertising industry trade paper Campaign. Cramer's name was replaced by Maurice's and Saatchi & Saatchi was born. Soon afterwards, Tim Bell was recruited to run the media side of the business. He quickly became Charles and Maurice's right-hand man, earning in the process an honorary nickname in the trade press as the "third brother" in the Saatchi & Saatchi empire.

The agency relaunched with a bold manifesto to do away with the extravagant expense-account-fuelled excesses for which the industry was known, and focus instead on exceptional but cost-effective creativity. This was the area which Charles supervised, supported by a team of trusted lieutenants who tried to live up to his meticulous demands for excellence, and occasionally endured his fiery temper. Meanwhile Maurice set about designing and executing a bold and aggressive business plan to establish the agency as the biggest in London, if not the world. He began by breaking one of the key golden rules of the industry, namely that agencies did not poach each other's clients, but waited to be invited to a pitch by a prospective client. Ignoring such niceties, Saatchi drew up a shortlist of clients he wanted and began cold-calling them direct, asking for an opportunity to present.

Startling and original work for the automobile company British Leyland and Daily Mail newspaper as well as the Health Education Council quickly won them a reputation in the industry, and they consolidated this in 1975 by merging with Garland-Compton, the rather tired London affiliate of New York's Compton advertising. In fact, strictly speaking it was Compton which acquired Saatchis, but the brothers insisted on keeping their names above the door, as well as the controlling 36% shareholding in the merged agency, Saatchi & Saatchi Garland-Compton. This gave the brothers a listing on the London Stock Exchange, and vaulted them from #13 to #5 in the market. It also gave them their first place on the roster of Procter & Gamble, a longstanding Compton client. At around the same time, they recruited a young accountant named Martin Sorrell to become finance director. By the end of the 1970s, the agency had risen further to become the country's #1 spot following the acquisitions of Hall advertising and Roe & Partners, as well as the widely acclaimed "Labour Isn't Working" campaign for Margaret Thatcher's Conservative Party, which triumphed in the 1979 general election.

In 1981, the Saatchis added two further UK agencies, Dorland and Crawfords, then turned their attention to the US. In 1982 they bought out Garland-Compton's parent agency Compton advertising for $57m, then added a series of other companies including McCaffrey & McCall and Yankelovich, before turning their attention to Ted Bates Worldwide. In 1986, the purchase of Bates for what was then an astronomical sum of $507m made Saatchi's the world's biggest advertising agency.

But that is where the plan started to go wrong. The huge payout to the outgoing Bates management team alienated many US clients; others were alarmed at the invasion by two unknown British upstarts. Bates clients RJR Nabisco, McDonald's, Michelob and Warner-Lambert all pulled their accounts in protest. There were also problems with the brothers' key advisors. In 1984, the original "third brother" Tim Bell, feeling increasingly marginalised within the expanding Saatchi empire and largely opposed to this breakneck expansion, jumped ship to Lowe Howard-Spink. Martin Sorrell, who had replaced Bell as the brothers' right-hand man, also had ideas of his own. Since the late-1970s, the Saatchis had depended on their finance director to manage the business end of their swashbuckling corporate style. But in 1986, he too left the agency to head up his own business, WPP. Meanwhile, to maintain the creative output of their agencies, the brothers had begun to offer vast salaries to attract new talent. One CDP copywriter, Jeff Seymour, was poached for what was then the unheard-of salary of £100,000. As a result, existing staff at Saatchi's and other agencies were quick to demand the same level of pay, a trend so marked that it led to the coining of a new industry term: "doing a Seymour".

Amid this chaos, the day-to-day business of the group was largely neglected. Instead the brothers began to look beyond advertising, attempting the ill-conceived takeover first of troubled UK bank, Midland (subsequently bought by HSBC) and then investment bank Hill Samuel. In 1987, WPP actually outbid Saatchi's to buy J Walter Thompson. Even more galling was the decision by Margaret Thatcher to appoint Tim Bell, by now regarded by the brothers as an outcast and a traitor, to work with Saatchis' on the advertising for the Conservatives' new election campaign. Two years later, Saatchi's reported sharply reduced profits for the first time after 19 years of spectacular growth. The same year the group was overtaken by WPP as the world #1 when Sorrell bought Ogilvy & Mather. In an attempt to prevent any further decline in performance, the brothers agreed to hire a experienced financier to take over day-to-day management of the business. Robert Louis-Dreyfus was appointed as chief executive and launched an extensive cost-cutting programme as well as a rights issue to stabilize the group's substantial debts.

Recession followed, accompanied by the defection of several important clients. The group began selling assets, but it was not enough to solve the complicated internal financial problems of the group. Louis-Dreyfus left the company during 1993, but the board acted quickly to prevent the Saatchi brothers from taking back day-to-day control, insisting that they move out of their lavish corporate offices into the main Saatchi agency. At the end of the year, Charles Saatchi, who had played an increasingly marginal role in the business, was voted off the board of directors, although he retained a title of president-for-life. A year later, Maurice too was ousted David Herro, the lead fund manager at Saatchi & Saatchi's principal investors Harris Associates, led a motion to remove Maurice Saatchi from the board, offering him instead a much diminished role as head of the Saatchi & Saatchi advertising agency. Not surprisingly he refused, and he and Charles offered their resignations immediately afterwards. Their departure also prompted the resignation of their three key lieutenants, the so-called "three amigos" of Jeremy Sinclair, Bill Muirhead and David Kershaw. This almost led to an even greater crisis when several major clients threatened to back the brothers rather than their former agency. In the end, five major clients followed Charles and Maurice to their new agency M&C Saatchi - Gallaher and Mirror Group immediately, British Airways, Dixons Group and the Conservative Party later the same year. However, the fracas also led to Mars pulling its entire $400m account from sister agency Bates (only part of it later ended up with M&C Saatchi).

Early the following year the group changed its name to Cordiant to reflect its new identity, and Saatchi's bolstered its offering with a minor acquisition. Laing Henry was absorbed by the group in early 1995 as part of a deal to secure its CEO Jennifer Laing as the new head of the Saatchi & Saatchi agency in London, replacing David Kershaw. But although it regained its stability quite quickly without Maurice and Charles Saatchi, some of the agency's lustre had gone as well. In 1996, it lost its position as the UK's biggest agency by billings for the first time since 1988. A year later, to allow its two networks to compete more effectively with each other, Cordiant hived off Saatchi & Saatchi into an entirely separate company, with group chairman Bob Seelert transferring to the new company, and appointing Kevin Roberts, a former P&G alumnus, as Saatchi's new CEO.

In truth, little remained of the 1980s-style Saatchi & Saatchi following its spin-off as an independent. But instead the business regained the hunger and creativity that had made it such a force to be reckoned with in the first place. New CEO Kevin Roberts stated that his new aim was to establish "the hottest ideas shop on the planet", quoting innovation and originality as his main goals. This resulted in a reshuffling of personnel, with a particular focus on boosting the creative output of the London office. (It also led to websites dedicated entirely to the thoughts and actions of CEO Roberts and creative director Bob Isherwood.)

However the agency's smaller size made it a potentially tasty takeover target for the big marketing services groups looking to bolster their portfolios. In 1999, rumours began to circulate that Saatchi's was in talks with True North Communications about a possible buyout. But leaked reports which showed True North in a state of some internal disarray put those negotiations on hold. Saatchi's was soon immersed in a scandal of its own, New Zealand's so-called "Dinnergate". In August 1998, CEO Roberts, for several years a New Zealand citizen, had dinner with that country's prime minister Jenny Shipley. They met again the following day, and then suddenly a few weeks later the New Zealand tourist board won a huge increase in its marketing budget, when other government departments were having budgets cut. Most of this was earmarked for a new ad campaign. The tourist board's agency? None other than Saatchi & Saatchi. The New Zealand parliament was outraged by this apparently unlikely coincidence and called for Shipley's resignation. Instead, it was Saatchi's who got the sack. There was no shortage of irony in the fact that the tourist board shifted the account to M&C Saatchi instead.

Despite these distractions, the group reported strong results for its first full year since demerger. Revenues were up more than 9% at constant exchange rates to £363m, while pre-tax profits were up more than 30% to £31m. The agency won $500m of new billings in 1998. Later that year it scored a key account win, with the $120 pan-European account for Sony, across all products except games. The Sony win was well-timed. A month later Delta Airlines shifted their $100m US account from Saatchi to Leo Burnett. But the new century began on a high when Procter & Gamble gave Saatchi's the $145m worldwide account for Iams, a petfood it had acquired the previous summer. Speculation over merger negotiations were resolved in June 2000 when Publicis acquired the group with a bid of $2bn. Kevin Roberts later revealed that he had also been involved in discussions with famed management consultancy McKinsey & Co, but negotiations foundered over the financial structure of any deal.

Prior to its acquisition by Publicis, the Saatchi & Saatchi advertising group had also housed several other units, but most of these were spun off into other groups. Strategic communications agency Rowland Worldwide was realigned with Publicis Consultants; and the Healthcare Resources Group, including Klemtner advertising and Saatchi & Saatchi Healthcare, became part of what is now Publicis Healthcare. Interactive agencies Darwin Digital and Red Kite New Media were grouped under newly formed division Carbon: Saatchi & Saatchi in early 2001, but later shut down.

Since its acquisition, Saatchi has proved a happy member of the greatly expanded Publicis group. There was one major upheaval in early 2005, however, when 17 staff members abruptly quit the New York office of Saatchi's en masse, seemingly as a reaction to the dismissal of Mike Burns, worldwide account director on Saatchi's General Mills account. The departing employees had also all worked on the General Mills account, and the team was later reported to be negotiating to join Interpublic, heightening speculation that the food company's business could at some point follow them. However an emergency consultation with General Mills by Saatchi New York's recently appointed president Mary Baglivo and group CEO Kevin Roberts appeared to save the day. Later, Saatchi issued a lawsuit against Burns, which claimed he had violated his duties to the agency by badmouthing it to other employees and to clients after he was passed over for Baglivo's role. The so-called Saatchi 17 resignees eventually formed creative agency OneSeven under Interpublic's wing, but it was later shut down after winning little business.

Tony Granger, chief creative officer of Saatchi's NY office jumped ship at the end of 2007 to join Y&R. He was replaced for three years by Gerry Graf, but he too resigned in 2010 to launch his own independent shop. Con Williamson took over as CCO towards the end of the year. See full profile for current activities

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