Editorial: Labour brief might make Saatchis electable again

Maurice Saatchi was right. Nothing is impossible. And the Labour Party's choice of Saatchi & Saatchi to help win the next election proves it.

It almost beggars belief that the Charlotte Street offices - where, in the 80s, Saatchis chiefs and Tory strategists plotted to ensure Labour remained in the political wilderness - would one day be the place where plans are laid to keep it in power. But as the Hollywood movie mogul Sam Goldwyn once said: "We've all passed a lot of water since then."

Indeed we have. In the years that have elapsed since Saatchis brought Margaret Thatcher to power in 1979, Labour has had to undergo a painful catharsis, when old dogma was ditched to make it electable again.

It's been a similar story at the agency. The biggest bust-up in advertising history that ended with the departure of the Saatchi brothers in 1994 traumatised it. The bitterness generated over the loss of accounts and staff to the fledgling M&C Saatchi took years to subside. Trying to sustain the Saatchis' "can do" culture after most of those responsible for creating it were gone stretched the credulity of new-business prospects and industry onlookers. And although the agency resisted a complete break with its past by changing its name, establishing an alternative culture has not been easy. Some of its initiatives have looked more like gimmicks than serious efforts to add value to clients' business.

Against that background, the Labour appointment could prove to be a defining moment. The agency's Sony Ericsson win at the end of last year was a rare piece of pitch success in 2006 and contrasts with a much more downbeat performance so far during 2007.

Maybe Labour can provide the vital spark that will reinvigorate the agency. Such a high-profile account could be just what's needed to give Saatchis some of its old swaggering self-confidence back. Nothing is impossible.

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