Saatchis’ outrageous desire to change the world inspires 50 years on
A view from Gideon Spanier

Saatchis’ outrageous desire to change the world inspires 50 years on

The ethos of the Saatchi brand continues to have relevance for today's ad industry.

Most advertising is “terrific” or “shit”, “all our creative people have to act as if they were salesmen”, “we are not interested in small clients or small billings” and too many marketing directors talk about “brand awareness” rather than “selling”.

So said Charles Saatchi, speaking alongside his brother, Maurice, in a pulsating interview with Campaign in September 1970 that we have republished to mark the 50th anniversary of Saatchi & Saatchi and 25th anniversary of its breakaway rival, M&C Saatchi.

The launch of an agency half a century ago is an unlikely source of inspiration during a global pandemic but the Saatchi brand is like no other in advertising. Both agencies have had their fair share of dramas, including, most recently, an accounting scandal at M&C Saatchi.

The original Saatchi vision, articulated by two twenty-something Iraqi-Jewish brothers with an outsider’s mentality, was about “an outrageous desire to change the world”, as David Kershaw, chief executive of M&C Saatchi, says in our feature about the double whammy of anniversaries.

That ethos resonates to this day as the ad industry grapples with digital disruption and the need to grow again in the Covid era.

We need more inspirational stories about creators and entrepreneurs who want to change the world.

Misan Harriman, the photographer who has just become the first black man to shoot the cover of British Vogue, fits that bill. He chronicled the Black Lives Matter protests in London, which took place in the summer, because he felt it was an “important and powerful” moment and got spotted on social media.

“If there were no internet, no-one would have seen my photography,” he tells Campaign. Harriman hopes the attention will “shine a light” on other talents “who have never really been given a fair opportunity”.

He taught himself photography at the age of 39, three years ago, and says: “You’re never too old to start.” Adland’s ageists, take note.

At this turbulent moment, an outrageous desire to change the world can propel this industry forward again

Gideon Spanier is UK editor-in-chief of Campaign