Feature

M&C Saatchi co-founders: "From the outside it was theirs, but really it was ours"

As Brand Saatchi hits its 50-year milestone, Campaign talks to its most loyal advocates Bill Muirhead, David Kershaw and Jeremy Sinclair (pictured, below) about how Charles’ creative vision and Maurice’s consummate account handling drove Saatchi & Saatchi’s dominance in the early years, why the launch of breakaway agency M&C Saatchi was really led by the three of them, and the impact of last year’s accounting scandal

(l-r) Bill Muirhead, David Kershaw and Jeremy Sinclair
(l-r) Bill Muirhead, David Kershaw and Jeremy Sinclair

“Yeah, that was good. Yeah, I’d do that again. When you click through it – click, click, click, click – I find it quite exciting. Sorry to be immodest about it.”

Jeremy Sinclair is talking Campaign through a slideshow of 25 of his favourite ads that he and his business partners, Bill Muirhead and David Kershaw, have picked from the last half-century of working first for Saatchi & Saatchi and then M&C Saatchi.

It is an awesome display: “Pregnant man”, which encouraged family planning; “Labour isn’t working”, which helped Margaret Thatcher get elected; “The fat lady sings” for Silk Cut, which marked the end of cigarette advertising. Then there’s “New Labour, new danger” with Tony Blair’s demon eyes. Another Conservative election poster of Ed Miliband in Alex Salmond’s pocket. And, to make it topical, one of the latest campaigns – “Looks like you need Iceland” – to promote tourism by getting people to “scream” into the internet.

“There is a current running through those ads of high impact, in your face, simple, hopefully world-changing or market-changing,” Kershaw says, sitting alongside Muirhead and Sinclair on a Zoom call. “There’s no doubt, when you see those ads, you see Saatchi.”

Sinclair, Muirhead and Kershaw should know. In the case of Sinclair, the creative, he has been there since before day one, 50 years ago, when Charles Saatchi and his brother Maurice announced the launch of Saatchi & Saatchi in Campaign on 11 September 1970.

Muirhead and Kershaw, the two account men, joined in 1972 and 1982 – the glory days when Saatchi & Saatchi was known as the biggest and the best in the world, before the brothers over-extended themselves and lost control. The five of them went on to set up a breakaway agency, M&C Saatchi, in 1995 and became equal partners.

Charles was barely involved as he focused on his art collection but Maurice stayed, albeit in an increasingly semi-detached way, until December 2019. That’s when he sensationally quit, along with all of the non-executive directors, in a row over £11.6m of accounting irregularities and adjustments, and its stock market value crashed 80% to about £70m.

And now there are just three: Sinclair, 73, earnest and passionate; Muirhead, 74, debonair with Australian charm; and Kershaw, 66, a jolly, clubbable Arsenal fan.

The trio remain loyal to the original Saatchi ethos – what Kershaw describes as “an outrageous desire to change the world”, “to do things dramatically” with “no pussy-footing” – but the last year has been tough.

The accounting problems first came to light in August 2019 and, more than 12 months later, the 2018 accounts had still not been published, which delayed the release of the 2019 numbers too.

“It’s been the worst year we’ve had – by a country mile,” Sinclair admits, referring to the endless checks by external auditors and a Financial Conduct Authority investigation.

“It doesn’t stop,” he says. “I go home and I’m still dealing with it. It is the relentless nature of it that has been the most knackering.”

Sinclair, the chairman, Kershaw, the chief executive, and Muirhead, an executive director, know their time in charge is drawing to an end and are thinking about their “legacy”.

There was speculation that they might resign last December but they didn’t want to run away and felt a sense of responsibility. “We’ve got to get this bit right and then move on,” Muirhead says.

Vin Murria, a serial tech entrepreneur and investor, bought a 13.25% stake in May in a surprise move that signalled M&C Saatchi’s future could be up for grabs.

Sinclair, Muirhead and Kershaw own only 12% between them, and other predators are said to be watching.

That’s why the twin anniversaries – the 25th birthday of M&C Saatchi and the 50th of Saatchi & Saatchi, which is now owned by Publicis Groupe – carry additional significance for Sinclair, Muirhead and Kershaw because there is a sense of finality.

Saatchi is still the most famous name in global advertising and, as the trio reveal in this interview, they still hold out hope that the two rival agencies might be reunited one day.

By contrast, Charles and Maurice are in no mood to mark the anniversaries – unlike 10 years ago, when M&C Saatchi and Saatchi & Saatchi threw a huge, joint bash at Charles’ Saatchi Gallery, attended by Baroness Thatcher and other big names from politics and the media.

When Campaign approached Charles about this article – and sent him a copy of the 1970 launch interview he gave to this magazine – he replied by email: “Sorry to say that I have no wish to participate. Apologies for being a dud.”

Maurice, who was a business executive at Haymarket, the owner of Campaign, before starting up Saatchi & Saatchi with his older brother, also declined to talk – in keeping with his policy of saying nothing since quitting M&C Saatchi last year.

This, then, is the story of the Saatchis’ three most loyal lieutenants. A trio who are arguably more dedicated than even the brothers to sustaining the Saatchi advertising brand.

“The biggest and the best”

Charles’ ambition and vision for Saatchi & Saatchi were evident in that pulsating Campaign interview from 50 years ago that we republish as part of our coverage. He was 27 and already wise beyond his years because he had started in advertising in his teens, Sinclair recalls.

Charles had already run a consultancy, Cramer Saatchi, which he set up in 1967, and was on a high as the team, which included Sinclair, had just produced the “Pregnant man”, which had picked up a clutch of industry awards.

Most advertising was either “terrific” or “shit”, according to Charles, who exuded energy, aggressive salesmanship and contempt for most existing agencies in the interview.

“All our creative people have to act as if they were salesmen,” he vowed. “They have to imagine themselves in the client’s position all the time. They have to see themselves with a warehouse full of product that has to be sold.”

His comments resonate to this day as clients and agencies grapple with digital disruption and the need to grow again in a Covid world – albeit Muirhead says the agency soon discovered that Charles couldn’t leave all the selling to the creatives and it still needed account executives.

For Sinclair, Muirhead and Kershaw, that 1970 interview captures a lot of what made Saatchi such a powerful agency brand over the next 50 years.

“We wanted to be the biggest and the best and you see this running right through the article,” Sinclair recalls. “When we started, all the big agencies were crap and all the great agencies were minute.”

Part of the problem was “the industry at the time was a club”, he continues, as Muirhead and Kershaw let him do the talking. “It had sherry at 11am, gin and tonic at 5pm, and it was all a lot of really nice people having a rather nice life. And then we came along.”

Charles and Maurice, in particular, were “outsiders” – from an Iraqi-Jewish family in north London – “and, whether they knew it or not, they had an outsiders’ marauding attitude”, according to Sinclair.

“If you can be Jewish Puritans, that’s what we were. We didn’t do any of the drinks, we didn’t do any of the drugs,” he explains, before Muirhead tries to correct him: “Hang on, Jeremy!” Sinclair chuckles: “Sorry, this was before Bill joined.”

A lot of the agency was staffed by young men in their early twenties and there was a “freedom” to “do things that might not necessarily work and not be punished for it”, Muirhead says. “That I found really attractive when I first came. It brought a certain kind of person to the company – the kind of people who would do things that other people thought weren’t possible. And that was very much there from the beginning.” Hence the agency’s mantra: “Nothing is impossible.”

The focus for Sinclair was the work. “All we were there to do was to crash out great ads and the better the ads, the more we could get away with,” he says. “Charles was a great writer. We had a brief to tell people to wash their hands and he wrote, ‘Wash your hands, you know where they’ve been.’ It was in your face, it was making you think about your crotch without mentioning it, it’s what we did – we were there to knock the socks off the world.”

Charles had an “innate ambition” to make the Saatchi brand and work such as the “Pregnant man” famous, Sinclair says, while Maurice was a “brilliant suit” with clients, according to Kershaw.

With hindsight, it looks like Charles and Maurice wanted to build a mythology around the Saatchi name from the start but Sinclair insists: “We never said we were doing that. We were building the brand.”

Working for Thatcher on successive election-winning campaigns was “crucial” as it “took a locally famous agency and made it globally famous”, he says. “It opened doors right across the planet because of what we’d done.” Indeed, four decades later, when Thatcher died in 2013, M&C Saatchi ran a tribute poster to “the best client we ever had”. Sinclair says: “That was not fawning to anyone. We actually think she made the agency.”

A lot of the Saatchi & Saatchi story between 1970 and 1995 has become part of advertising folklore and been told many times: the commercial expansion under Tim Bell, the managing director, who went on to found Bell Pottinger; the global M&A spree overseen by Martin Sorrell, the finance director, who quit to run WPP; the iconic headquarters at 80 Charlotte Street and the parties; the creation of Zenith, a pioneering media agency that aggregated the Saatchi agencies’ buying power; then the ill-fated bid for Midland Bank and taking on too much debt, followed by the boardroom coup against Maurice at the end of 1994 and Charles’ exit with him.

The accounts from that year give a picture of Saatchi & Saatchi’s scale: 11,000 staff and annual revenue of £775m but group operating margin was only 5.7% and it had net debt of £128m. The idea of being “the biggest and the best” turned into “carry on growing until we got worse”, Sinclair says, only half-joking.

For Maurice, in particular, who was ousted, his departure was a humiliation. As a result, “there probably was an element of revenge” for him and Charles when it came to starting up M&C Saatchi, according to Kershaw.

However, Sinclair, Muirhead and Kershaw chose to quit. They felt “no bitterness” because they had already been plotting to leave and launch their own shop (although their exit did trigger a spectacular legal battle with their old employer).

Saatchi & Saatchi continued, without the brothers and their lieutenants, and its history after 1995, when it became a subsidiary of Publicis Groupe, is important, but not the focus here.

“Our days of serfdom are over”

The breakaway agency announced its arrival on the front page of Campaign in January 1995 but the story, “Top Saatchi rebels join Maurice’s new agency”, didn’t fully reflect the power play behind the scenes.

The agency could easily have been called Sinclair, Muirhead and Kershaw – with no mention of Saatchi – because the trio came close to launching without the brothers’ involvement. How close? “Very,” Muirhead says.

However, the lure of the Saatchi brand and their loyalty to Maurice and Charles (below) were strong. Maurice phoned to ask them: “What are you boys going to do?” They told him about their start-up and he immediately consulted Charles, before calling them back five minutes later.

“Maurice said: ‘I’ve spoken to Charles and we think it’s a brilliant idea that you’re starting your company and we’d like to join your company and we think you boys should have 5% each,’” Muirhead says, recalling how he and Kershaw were in Sinclair’s office, listening in. “And Jeremy said: ‘Stop, stop, Maurice. Our days of serfdom are over. If you and Charles would like to join us, you can do – as equal partners.’”

Maurice spoke to Charles again, they agreed to join, and M&C Saatchi was born. “We gave away 40% of the equity for the name ‘Saatchi’,” Sinclair says. “We thought having spent 25 years making the name Saatchi famous, it was a door-opener for us. So that’s how important we thought it was. We owned 100%. We went down to 60%, giving the two brothers 20% each, for the thrill of having M&C Saatchi in our title.”

The new agency’s proposition – “the new testament”, Kershaw calls it – was different. M&C Saatchi would focus on organic growth, rather than acquisitions, and eschew debt – “learning the lessons from what had happened between 1989 and 1994”, Kershaw says. “Obviously Martin had gone off to pursue that [M&A-driven] model brilliantly in his way [at WPP]. We thought we’d do it differently.”

Yet Sinclair insists that in some ways M&C Saatchi stuck to the core values from 1970: “Why don’t you look at it not as a new agency?” Instead, they felt, it was a continuation of the old agency. “We left the company because it was being taken off in a direction that we didn’t recognise, authorise, believe in. In a way, we were just carrying on,” according to Sinclair.

And it was exciting to start over. They “wanted to see if lightning could strike twice”, he says, because so many successful agency leaders don’t have “the partners”, “the glue” or “the luck” second time round.

M&C Saatchi prospered. Some of Saatchi & Saatchi’s clients, notably British Airways and the Conservatives, joined the new agency, although the latter’s 1997 general election defeat signalled the times were changing.

The new shop wanted to be “the most sought-after agency” in the world and its slogan was “Brutal simplicity of thought”, although Sinclair concedes: “We weren’t particularly out to be the best.”

Charles left but Maurice remained “a formidable handler of business”, Kershaw says. “He had an amazing relationship with Colin Marshall, who was chairman of BA, and with Mars. We wouldn’t have got those businesses and we wouldn’t have been able to make great work for them [without Maurice].”

M&C Saatchi went on to float on the stock market in 2004 but avoided making big acquisitions. Instead it built an international network organically, backing agency entrepreneurs in local markets and giving them minority stakes in return that could be turned into shares.

The group also diversified by discipline as it moved into media, CRM, public relations, sports marketing and talent management. Savvy investments included backing Walker Media, which was eventually bought by Publicis Groupe, and M&C Saatchi Mobile, which is now M&C Saatchi Performance.

“The basic model that says don’t fuel it all by M&A and just raising capital all the time and buying stuff but actually find really talented people, whether that be in new verticals or geographies, and make them your partners and give them meaningful equity in it, I think that should last beyond us,” Kershaw says.

And the Saatchi name, not just the offer of financial backing, has been a vital ingredient in attracting those agency entrepreneurs. “In terms of developing the new model, it would have been a lot tougher without the Saatchi brand,” Kershaw believes.

More agency talent will want a stake in their own businesses in future, according to Sinclair, who points to the record number of start-ups and people registering website domains in recent years across the UK economy. “I think more and more people will refuse to be wage slaves,” he predicts. “Even people in jobs are starting things on the side.”

M&C Saatchi has been a sweet set-up for Sinclair, Muirhead, Kershaw and Maurice Saatchi, who sat pretty in their shared office on the top floor of their Golden Square headquarters and were able to fend off questions about succession – at least until the accounting problems.

Steadily rising revenue and profit growth were good for shareholders while the founders collected bonuses, dividends and even rent from the agency because they owned the freehold of the Golden Square building for a time.

One criticism of M&C Saatchi’s model is that it lacks genuine ambition. The group has 140 subsidiaries but it seems more like a collection of cottage businesses that are united by a brand and a network but have limited scale.

Sinclair concedes M&C Saatchi could have been bigger: “But we still have grown quite nicely. We’ve still got 2,200 or so people around the planet. We’ve still got 140 companies.”

The network might look “complicated” but the model itself is “simple”, he maintains: “There is an area that does need finessing – how do people get out of their local equity into the global equity? That model there is up for inspection at the moment and does need to be refined.” (M&C Saatchi’s share price drop in the last year means the global equity is worth less.) “That doesn’t deny the fact that people work better, people look after their homes better, Mrs Thatcher said, if they own it,” he says.

M&C Saatchi’s last accounts show annual revenues of £255m, making it a third of the size of Saatchi & Saatchi 25 years ago (and that excludes inflation). However, it had no debt, which was a blessing given what happened next, plus the Covid downturn.

Financial trouble

M&C Saatchi’s board discovered irregularities at four UK subsidiaries after a new finance director joined the parent company in spring 2019. The company alerted shareholders in August, only to tell them in December that the situation was worse than feared.

Sinclair, Muirhead and Kershaw are wary of discussing the saga. Their faces stiffen and they say they are limited in what they can say for now because of the FCA’s investigation.

“You have to say we didn’t have sufficient grip on the financial management of the company,” a chastened Kershaw admits. “At the end of the day, it’s our ultimate responsibility to make sure that the finances and controls of the company were correct.”

They feel “let down” by people they trusted, Muirhead adds, but they have a “determination to put it right, not to run away, not to try and avoid our responsibility”. Sinclair agrees and, when asked to elaborate, refers to his entry in the Campaign A List earlier this year about his biggest screw-ups. “Trusting accountants,” he wrote.

Arguably the failings went beyond the finances. The group’s many subsidiaries and back-office systems made it overly complex, even if it didn’t lead to the accounting irregularities.

Kershaw points out there are only about 25 key companies within the 140 subsidiaries but concedes “the complexity of that spider’s web” needs to be simplified, and M&C Saatchi will announce the results of a strategic review later in the autumn.

Then there was the issue of M&C Saatchi’s non-executive directors, Lord Dobbs, Sir Michael Peat and Lorna Tilbian. They made up less than half the board and two had links to the company that pre-dated them joining, which raised questions about independence. Kershaw doesn’t disagree.

Still, once the irregularities emerged, the NEDs turned against Sinclair, Muirhead and Kershaw – as did Maurice Saatchi, who resigned as an executive director in a one-line letter.

When asked, Sinclair, Muirhead and Kershaw say they have had no contact with Maurice since that day – a brutal end to 49 years of working together.

“I just wish him well,” Sinclair says, referring to the grief that Maurice has suffered since being widowed.

None of the trio has had contact with Charles for years, but they find it easier to talk about him.

“Charles will forever be on a pedestal in my mind,” Sinclair says. “He taught me everything I knew about advertising. I have tremendous affection for him and will do until I shuffle.”

The bonds run deep between Sinclair, Muirhead and Kershaw and some of their long-serving colleagues such as Moray MacLennan (the most likely heir apparent) and Tim Duffy, who both joined from Saatchi & Saatchi. “It is a family business,” Sinclair says. “We may not be blood family but we are family.”

An enduring love of advertising

Sinclair’s slideshow of work brings back many memories for the trio, who enthuse over past glories like the time a client dismissed the idea of putting an ad on the Berlin Wall when it fell in 1989. The agency ran the ad for itself and sent an executive to Germany with the banner that said: “Saatchi & Saatchi – first over the wall.” Sinclair grins: “We were the first agency to stick an advert on the wall – you can’t forget that. An advert for ourselves – we keep doing that, we advertise ourselves.”

They love talking about the work. Sinclair says: “It’s because we’re salesmen, really. We’re showmen.” He is still creating ads, including one to mark the joint 25th and 50th anniversaries. “I get a kick out of it. When I wrote it the other day, I felt better afterwards. Is it a drug? I don’t know but I love doing it. I love having a blank piece of paper – there’s nothing on it and then suddenly something appears on it. You think, ‘Where did that come from? What is this?’ That to me is the pleasure of producing, out of an apparent nothing, something. I just think it’s a great thing to do. The more people that love it, the better it is.”

Muirhead also remains in love with the craft, although he sees it more through the business lens of the account man: “You can see afterwards what happened and it sells things. It’s very satisfying being able to see after you’ve done something, products are sold or attitudes are changed.”

Kershaw says: “It’s also a great act of transformation. People say: what is creativity? You give them the most boring explanation of what the selling message for the most boring product can be. And then, through an act of brilliance, you make that boring selling of something boring really interesting.

“It will then change how people think or their attitudes to obesity or how they vote or what they do. There is a magic in that. You can go on for 10 minutes about how you feel and then someone puts it into a rhyming couplet. That act of creative transformation is one of the most exciting things in the world. Advertising just happens to be a great commercial manifestation of that creative act.”

Their best work from the past 50 years has “the same personality that you see in that Charles interview” and is distinctive in its own way – just like the “gentle elegance” of Abbott Mead Vickers or the “loveliness” of “BMP morphing into Adam & Eve”, Kershaw says.

The theory is nice but the reality is M&C Saatchi’s flagship UK ad agency has had a mixed record creatively – “the whole agency still seems to be defined by the work for Thatcher”, one person who knows the founders says – and a series of shortlived leadership teams. Last year, it lost NatWest, cut a tenth of jobs and merged with CRM shop Lida.

Sinclair remains resolutely upbeat, describing the current management team, Camilla Kemp and Ben Golik, as the “best we’ve ever had”.

Reuniting the rival Saatchi agencies?

The 50th and 25th anniversaries of the two rival agencies raise the question about whether M&C Saatchi and Saatchi & Saatchi might ever come back together as one. Muirhead admits: “The great dream would have been to put the two companies back together and just have one name and to have it in its former glory – combined.”

Campaign understands there were discussions between M&C Saatchi and Publicis Groupe – before the accounting irregularities – about a possible combination. Both Sinclair and Maurice Saatchi talked to Maurice Levy, the long-serving chairman of the supervisory board of Publicis Groupe, at various points, including in around 2017.

“I certainly had conversations with Maurice [Levy] a couple of years ago,” Sinclair reveals. “But it partly went nowhere because he, at the time, was very reluctant to let go of anything he had [for example, by spinning off Saatchi & Saatchi]. He was intent on copying what was then Martin’s model of just growing and growing and growing.

“One of the things we put to him was, ‘Why don’t we mix Saatchi and M&C Saatchi and have it as an independent floated company?’, where you Publicis have a substantial holding in it but so do the public, so that the [entrepreneurial] model can go on.” But Levy could not be persuaded. “In the end, that required him to let go of some of his Publicis billings. So, then he wouldn’t do it,” Sinclair says.

He adds wistfully “but maybe the new man” – a reference to Arthur Sadoun, who replaced Levy as chief executive in 2017 – might have another think about it. “There could be an interesting model there somewhere,” Sinclair says.

Kershaw sounds less hopeful. When the two sides started talking, Publicis Groupe had already begun to move to its “Power of One” model of bringing different agencies and disciplines together for clients such as Procter & Gamble under one roof. “Sadly, the longer time we talked to them, the more difficult it was for them to let it [Saatchi & Saatchi] out [from the wider Publicis Groupe] – because of the strategy.”

Muirhead still holds out hope. “It sort of hurt me that the original company is now a subsidiary of a French group,” he says, and he is “sad” that some other big agencies named after their founders such as J Walter Thompson, which “I never thought would disappear”, have been axed recently. “Who knows? Sometime in the future, maybe in my dreams, there would be a coming back together [of the two rival Saatchi brands] with the same spirit and new people.”

Sinclair, Muirhead and Kershaw’s enduring love for the Saatchi brand is palpable. “We’ve moved 20 yards in 50 years,” Sinclair says, noting the first office in 1970 was in Golden Square.

So how much have they become the Saatchi torchbearers as the brothers have lost interest? “Saatchi always was a group of people,” Sinclair says, referring to the old days at Saatchi & Saatchi. “Maurice and Charles were the headline act. But the strength of the place was we managed to pull an extraordinary group of people together. It always was, in my view, a conglomerate.”

M&C Saatchi maintained that ethos but the balance of power shifted with five equal partners.

The way the trio tell it, they were always going to launch their own agency in 1995 because they wanted the original Saatchi spirit to continue but they didn’t have the Saatchi brand. Partnering with Maurice and Charles allowed them to get the name to go with it.

Is that how they see M&C Saatchi? “That’s a very good summation,” Kershaw says. “We don’t regret that,” Sinclair adds.

So, do the three of them feel that M&C Saatchi was really “your agency”, rather than the brothers’ agency? “In truth it was ours, but visually from outside you could say it was theirs,” Sinclair says. “But in terms of the running of it, the ethos of it, the no debt, the equity participation and all that, that was us – 100%.”

And, after half a century of dedication to the Saatchi brand, what would they say to Charles and Maurice if they read this article? “Thank you,” Sinclair says.

Meet Mick the Merc

If you want to know the real story, ask the chauffeur. Mick Doyle, aka Mick the Merc, was a driver at Saatchi & Saatchi and then M&C Saatchi from 1976 until 2006.

I used to love working at Saatchis, it was a great advertising company. They used to have party after party in the reception at 80 Charlotte Street (below). If somebody had a cold, they’d have a party, it was just one of those companies.

It was run by the amazing Tim Bell, who worked for the brothers. He was exceptional and, of course, Maggie Thatcher loved him, she gave him the knighthood. I think Maurice had a great relationship with Maggie, but all the stuff like “Labour isn’t working”, that was all under Bell. He was chairman, and the brothers were up on the top floor at Charlotte Street, looking down on everybody. Obviously the mainstay of that 1979 election was Bell.

When I first worked there in 1976, there were six or seven hundred people: it was a young, vibrant agency, very selective when picking clients. They only used to go for the top clients, which is understandable; that’s where the money is. The Saatchi name is shorthand for success, and the advertising they did was a class act – most of it. One of my favourites was Geoff Seymour’s “Outer space” ad for British Airways. When they finally lost the BA account in 2005, Maurice was very upset.

Everybody knew the brothers’ relationship was stormy. Charles was quite moody, but he always arrived for BA or Silk Cut. Occasionally he might even go up to Silk Cut, near Weybridge. Maurice was also friendly with the Mars brothers and pulled out all the stops for the big clients. Especially BA, he was friendly with Lord King, who was chairman then. I often drove down to Lord King’s house in Chelsea, when Maurice went there for drinks.

Maurice was a joy to work for, and his wife Josephine. I used to look after them, and their son Edward. I’d collect Maurice from the office, take him to meetings, lunches, shopping for him and the family. I can’t speak highly enough of these people. They were real people, and they worried about other people. Maurice would jump out of the car if he saw somebody fall over on the pavement – he did it a couple of times at the lights at Piccadilly.

It’s just a shame that everything went boss-eyed. The brothers sold a lot of their shares and lost control, that’s when the shit hit the fan. The geezer who caused a big problem for Maurice was a guy called David Herro. He was an investor in Chicago, who oversaw a big minority stake. When Maurice was kicked off the board in 1994 one evening on a conference call, I had a night off, and found out in the next morning’s paper that he was no longer anything to do with Saatchis.

A few weeks later I was outside Maurice’s house, and there were different people arriving; account handlers from Saatchis. I knew something big was going on, which materialised in M&C. Almost immediately, some of Saatchis’ top lieutenants including Jeremy Sinclair, Bill Muirhead and David Kershaw joined (in Golden Square, below) too.

The brothers just seemed to carry on with life. Except once, I remember pulling up at the lights by the Bank of England and on the left-hand side was a big, brass plaque on the wall and it said “The Midland Bank”. Maurice looked at me, he said: “Imagine where we’d be if me and Charles had bought that Mick, it would have been in the billions.” I said, yeah, but that’s not happened, it’s history.