Two years in any job is long enough, so, for one week, Stefano Hatfield
has swapped Perspective for a Greek island. Not without trepidation, I
embark on the one column in Campaign where, I am assured, you do not
have to watch your back quite as closely as elsewhere.
Fortunately, the week’s hot topic is obvious. Did Saatchi and Saatchi
deserve to win Agency of the Year at Cannes? Yes, on paper, because it
won the most awards. It took home 13 lions for its print and poster
work. The London agency won four of the six golds with work for Anti-
Slavery International, the Commission for Racial Equality and the Joint
Israel Appeal. As for films, there were two bronzes - one for London’s
Wild at Heart flower shop, another for a CRE spot, both small-scale
Not surprisingly, Charlotte Street is ecstatic - recognition from an
international panel of judges, evidence of the group’s commitment to
creative excellence etc.
However, there are reasons for believing that the award means rather
more to Charlotte Street than to anybody else, the foremost reason being
the preponderance of charity ads for which Saatchis - remember the
classic ‘is there anybody out there?’ for the Samaritans? - has long
been famous. The truth is that charity ads tend to be universally
understandable, thus standing a better chance of success than their more
restricted commercial counterparts.
Strip away the charity work, the cynics say, and what are we left with?
Work for Sony from Argentina, work for Kodak from America, work for
Greenpeace from Italy (yes, charity again), and, from London, print work
for Stanley Tools, HarperCollins and the Metropolitan Police. Sparkling
stuff alright, and a fine confirmation of the London agency’s new
generation of creative talent, but hardly a testament to uniform
creative quality across Saatchis’ agency network.
And yet few would argue against Saatchis deserving some recognition for
its chutzpah over the past 18 months. And the Cannes award
incontrovertibly proves one unchanging aspect of Charlotte Street’s
uniqueness, which lies in preventing its run-of-the-mill work from
corrupting the accounts for which excellence is possible.
Sexist as it might sound, and with apologies to Adam Crozier, I like to
think of Saatchis continued spirit in classic gender terms. When the
agency’s macho charisma was ripped out, it was replaced by a feminine
resilience that is more about caring for what you’ve got than charging
into new territories, an ethos that has become essential in this current
ice age of big account moves. Witness Charlotte Street’s new business
from existing clients such as Procter and Gamble, Toyota and Carlsberg-