Details of just how Cordiant chiefs made the catastrophic mistake
of believing Mars would not take revenge for Maurice Saatchi’s ousting
have emerged in Kevin Goldman’s new book on the affair, Conflicting
Under shareholder pressure in December 1994 to ditch Maurice, Cordiant -
then known as the Saatchi and Saatchi group - was confident the
confectionery giant would do no more than show its displeasure by
reassigning a few brands.
After dinner in a New York restaurant, Bill Muirhead, head of the
Saatchi group agencies in North America, who was later to defect to
Maurice, warned group board members that if Maurice was fired ’you will
lose Mars without question’.
But Michael Bungey, the Bates Worldwide chairman, disputed the claim and
assured the gathering that firing Maurice ’will be very good, a very
positive thing for Bates’.
He added: ’If Maurice is no longer in the company, Bates will do even
better. I don’t think you’ll lose Procter and Gamble and I don’t think
we’ll lose Mars.’
Bungey was backed by Frank Assumma, the then president of the Bates
agency in New York, who assured the directors that Mars’s ’punishment’
would be a limited one.
According to Goldman, Assumma said: ’Mars may be cruel, but they’re not
stupid. We’re too important to Mars.’
Book extract, p10.