Six months ago, when Tom Bazeley, Dave Bedwood, Sam Ball and Dave Cox decided to cash in their Lean Mean Fighting Machine chips and sell to M&C Saatchi, it’s probably safe to say that, deep down, they didn’t really expect to play much of a pivotal role beyond the end of their earn-out.
Despite all the caveats and assurances that the LMFM spirit would be kept alive (even if the brand was going to be extinguished and subsumed into the agency), it just felt that, whatever happened, things in the future wouldn’t really be the same again – they were the antithesis of corporate agency culture, despite what noises they made to the contrary.
Shortly after the deal was done, the boys created an amusing spoof film – albeit one that had pathos running deeply throughout – that actually also seemed to reflect the views of the wider industry. They had made their money and sold their souls and would live with the consequences of money and ennui.
In their half-term school report (their final one), their entry eschewed the standard and highly anticipated juvenilia with a rather more earnest plea. Labouring the point that they had merely sold up and not sold out revealed that they probably privately felt the same too as the weeks ticked down to their relocation from Camden to Golden Square. With the final, autumnal winding down of the LMFM operation, it’s understandable if they felt a little rueful as reality hit home.
It's almost as if Lisa Thomas used remarkable foresight and planned things to pan out this way at M&C Saatchi
Then along comes one of the shocks of the year, with the M&C Saatchi chief executive Camilla Harrisson’s surprise departure last week to provide some new-business oomph and energy to Anomaly London – and in a remarkable case of serendipity, Bazeley has been propelled into her old job. Well, thank God for that. It’s almost as if the group chief executive, Lisa Thomas, used amazing foresight and planned things to pan out this way.
There was always the potential for M&C Saatchi and LMFM to produce something bigger than the two component parts as both had complementary needs – M&C Saatchi just needed some confidence and chutzpah, while LMFM required a bit of maturity and rigour as well as a bigger stage to play off. And now with the personable Bazeley and his team joining the likes of the rather slicker and more considered Richard Alford, but with Bazeley in charge, it looks more likely to become a reality.
In truth, the spirit and the entrepreneurial zeal of LMFM is something that will be familiar to the M&C Saatchi founding partners (albeit without the knob gags). It’s pleasing that this has been recognised and that, by empowering its team to lead the London agency, that ethos will hopefully be reborn. Thomas’ deal now looks smarter than ever.