Smoke, Mirrors and the Advertising Agency

Great feature in the Media Guardian on the 40th anniversary of England’s most famous ad agency, Saatchi and Saatchi. Maurice and Charles left the company following a shareholder revolt in 1994 and set up shop as M&C Saatchi. Couple of interesting passages:

First, on the brothers’ impact on the global advertising and marketing industry:

“When we began, media buying took place in the media departments of advertising agencies. We folded all our agency media departments into one centralised media buying organisation. Nowadays, all media buying is done by centralised buying organisations. We said it would be more efficient for companies to coordinate all their marketing disciplines with one supplier; people said this could never happen, and that this was just a way for us to cross-sell different services to clients. We called it one-stop shopping. Today, they call it integration and it is the holy grail of all large marketers.”

Second, a great quote on the lengths a new agency sometimes has to go to in order to win accounts in the early days:

Even the founding of M&C Saatchi involved some smoke and mirrors. Moray MacLennan, the chief executive of M&C Saatchi Worldwide, recalls pitching for the British Airways account, up for review when the airline protested against the brothers’ removal from Saatchi & Saatchi: “There were basically a handful of us working out of a single room. BA needed a worldwide network, the kind of agency that employs 20,000 people. So we took a lease for a day on an empty building, hired a group of models to pose as staff and held the pitch there ā€“ the best looking employees I’ve ever seen. The building was just round the corner from BBH who were also pitching for the account and they told BA what we were up to. So they asked for a second meeting and we had to rehire the building, redress it, employ the same models and prepare loads of fake CVs. They certainly knew what we were up to, but I think they liked the chutzpah. Anyway, we won the business.”

Also in the article: WPP was originally a shopping basket manufacturer before Sir Martin Sorrell took over and used it as a vehicle to buy a veritable basket of marketing agencies!

via Saatchi brothers mark 40 years since the foundation of their ad agency | Media | The Guardian.

Disclosure – DDB, my employer competes with all agencies in the above posting.


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