Saatchi & Saatchi
Type of agency
New York, NY
Number of UK staff
As much as its exponents would like it to, no golf game can last forever. And so it was that Saatchi & Saatchi resigned the European Tour in February 2015 after six years, citing differences in creative ambition. The agency’s slo-mo valedictory campaign was a fitting tribute to the effect the drama on the course can have on its followers. The Tour went on to appoint George & Dragon, indicating something about its aspirations... Read more
Saatchi & Saatchi is an object lesson in survival. The agency could have easily crashed in flames when Maurice and Charles Saatchi were elbowed from the controls in 1994.
Not only has it remained airworthy, but it keeps a healthy altitude in the UK billings rankings. And if the agency has yet to rejoin the high-fliers, it has been a testament to the Saatchis mantra that “nothing is impossible”.
Launched in 1970, the agency was an amalgam of the brothers’ contrasting personalities. If the cerebral Maurice represented the agency’s head, Charles was its heart.
Creatively astute, Charles wanted the biggest and best agency network in the world and all the fame and fortune that went with it.
Maurice was markedly different. A gold medal-winning graduate of the London School of Economics, his style was much more measured and thoughtful. No more so than in his systematic approach to new business, adopting techniques he’d learned when he worked as a junior assistant at Haymarket helping to launch Campaign.
Saatchis hit the industry like a tornado, overturning convention and rushing for growth via a stock market-funded acquisition binge.
Meanwhile, the agency began extending its reputation well beyond adland by successfully helping propel Margaret Thatcher’s Conservatives to power in 1979 with the iconic “Labour isn’t working” poster.
Other work was equally breathtaking, not least the 1983 “Manhattan” spot for British Airways that aided its emergence as “the world’s favourite airline”.
In the end, though, their boundless ambition rebounded on the brothers, precipitating a shareholder revolt and their exit to launch M&C Saatchi, taking millions of pounds’ worth of business with them.
Somehow, Saatchis survived. And it thrived under David Droga’s creative command, sweeping the 2002 awards board with outstanding work for the NSPCC and Club 18-30.
Two years earlier, Maurice Levy’s Publicis Groupe bought Saatchis for $1.9 billion. Since 2007, it has been aligned with its Publicis sibling, Fallon, under the SSF Group.