M&C Saatchi's MacLennan: It's the age of the independent

The worldwide chief executive of M&C Saatchi says today's economic, political and social climate represents a significant challenge for the large agency networks.

Moray MacLennan
Moray MacLennan

Large agency networks are under greater pressure than ever from clients and independent competitors as the nature of the advertising industry becomes ever more on-demand and personal, said Moray MacLennan, worldwide CEO of M&C Saatchi.

Speaking to Campaign Asia-Pacific in Singapore, MacLennan said he believed independent agencies such as his are gaining the upper hand as clients look towards firms that can provide quicker, high-quality, locally relevant work.  

"Clients want speed and flexibility," he said. "They like the entrepreneurial spirit and new solutions, not ones caught up in big network processes and systems. Clients are people too, and people here and elsewhere want greater individuality and individualism. It is the age of the entrepreneur."

MacLennan said there is a "changing of the guard" coming for the big networks that could put "extreme pressure on their systems and cultures".

"The centrifugal force in the creative business pulls people apart, it doesn’t pull them together, and you don’t keep together ultimately through processes and systems," he said. "You keep people together through an attractive culture and a desire to work together. Otherwise you’re just forcing it on them, and that will splinter or shatter at some point."

To that end, MacLennan says M&C Saatchi will continue doing what it does, "better, quicker and building on our foundations and beliefs which are potentially more effective and appealing than they have been in the past".

Richard Morewood

For Asia-Pacific, that means expanding into new markets and building its existing practices, said Richard Morewood, CEO of M&C Saatchi Asia.

"We're looking at Indonesia, it’s a challenge but it’s growing. India and China are other markets we’re looking at developing further. But then there’s also the strength of the offerings we already have," he said.

"Multinational clients, as part of the current social and political landscape, are moving away from globalism to nationalism. They want to be quicker and nimbler because the world is moving so quickly. There’s no time for bureaucracy and taking days and days to get something done."

As such, Morewood said he is focused on further integrating M&C Saatchi’s Asia offices and continuing to promote creativity across the network.

"It’s about organic growth through the offices we have here, connecting the offices and getting a regional story together about our point of difference," he said. 

This story was first published on Campaign Asia-Pacific