K Advertising, the beleaguered reincarnation of KHBB, has finally
folded into its sister agency, Saatchi and Saatchi. The move follows
more than a year of speculation about its future.
Hamish Pringle, K’s chairman, becomes vice-chairman and marketing
director of Saatchis. He retains his client responsibilities and will
take on new business.
The merger raises questions over K’s pounds 4.7 million Commercial
Union account, which is in direct conflict with Saatchis’ Norwich Union
business. Adam Crozier, the Saatchis joint chief executive, said the
proposed solution was to move Commercial Union into Saatchis’
integrated agency, Team Saatchi.
But sources suggest there is a client conflict at Team Saatchi, and
that CU will reject the proposal and run existing work before launching
a full pitch.
K’s 34 account handlers and creatives will be integrated into existing
Saatchis group structures. There have been six redundancies, the most
senior being the Saatchis new-business manager, Jo Smith.
The K deal brings clients including Cheltenham and Gloucester, Puma,
Carlsberg and Alcatel into Saatchis.
K billed pounds 31.2 million last year, according to Register-MEAL.
Pringle said he finally bowed to the inevitable after the resignation
of K’s creative director, Keith Courtney, last week to join Leagas
Shafron Davis. K had been finding it difficult to hire senior staff.
Last year, Pringle was unable to find an account director to run the
agency’s flagship client, Carlsberg, and was forced to second a
Saatchis executive, David Goring-Morris.
Pringle said: ’We created the K brand but in the face of relentless
gossip, it became a self-fulfilling prophesy. I feel like we’ve been
nibbled to death by ducks. I fully support this merger and believe it
is in the very best interests of both our clients and our staff.’