In a surprise move, Saatchi and Saatchi Advertising Worldwide has
taken on a new chief executive from outside the group to replace the
veteran Ed Wax, who retires this summer.
Kevin Roberts, who has been a Saatchis client for more than 20 years,
has been hired as a ’hands-on’ leader to weld Saatchis’ global network
into a more unified team in the run-up to its demerger from Cordiant
later this year.
His appointment has surprised some observers who had expected Bob
Seelert - destined to be chief executive of the entire Saatchi and
Saatchi group once it demerges - to carry on alone. It is understood
that Seelert, who was drafted in from General Foods’ worldwide coffee
and international foods division two years ago, will focus on strategy
and investor relations.
Seelert’s responsibilities will cover all group companies, including the
multimedia specialist, Siegel and Gale, and the London-based Facilities
Group, in addition to the Saatchi advertising network.
Roberts will work solely for the network, reporting directly into
He will concentrate on client relations and the day-to-day management.
His previous experience at Procter and Gamble, where he was a regional
manager, will be of particular benefit, since the departing Wax is close
to this key Saatchis client.
Derek Bowden, the Saatchis chief executive for Europe, Middle East and
Africa, called Roberts a ’hands-on team captain’, adding: ’We have good
people in all the right places. I think Roberts is a self-confessed
coach-leader-cum-mentor. He wants to pull this all together.’
The 47-year-old Roberts was born in Lancaster, England. After cutting
his teeth developing and marketing the Mary Quant brand, he joined
Gillette and then, in 1975, moved to P&G, where he took responsibility
for the Middle East and Africa. Seven years later he became president
and chief executive of Pepsi-Cola Middle East and, most recently, worked
as the head of the New Zealand brewery, Lion Nathan.