They have one of those Tui "Yeah, right" billboards in reception, but this one's a blackboard so you can write your own line on it and I'm tempted. I'm a copywriter of sorts and, besides, I have 40 minutes to think about it.
It's a busy place, the reception at Saatchi & Saatchi, more people coming and going than Britomart. There's much purposeful walking and air-kissing. Multiple TV screens are playing soundless images. Big banners carry references to advertisements we know and love: The Telecom boy who even blinks fast, the TV One toddler with thousands of hairs, the even more hairy Brucetta from the Tui factory, the horny bulls who steal the Toyota ute and, of course, that blackboard.
Despite all this and a flick through the newspaper, the low-backed seating wasn't meant to make time fly and I start thinking: "11 o'clock. Yeah, right."
Then he comes. Winner of the Fairfax AdMedia CEO of the Year Award, the man who righted the floundering Saatchi ship since becoming CEO two years ago. And, let's face it, we love Saatchi's. For most New Zealanders, it's probably the only advertising agency they know by name. Andrew Stone could be a national hero. He's built like a torch battery, charged with energy.
On the way to his office, as we skirt the seething open-plan creative office, he starts talking. In passing there's a quick word to his assistant and then we're in his modest office and the door closes. He still talks a mile a minute and does something that completely disarms me; he gives me his complete attention. The waiting, the expired parking meter, the hubbub we hear through the walls, it all becomes incidental. It's just the two of us now.
Not only was Stone named CEO of the Year, but Saatchi & Saatchi was agency of the year in the AdMedia awards and won the Agency Effectiveness Award at the EFFIEs. The Australian-based industry magazines Campaign …