Bungey Takes a Jump and Cuts the Cord with Saatchi & Saatchi

By Osborne, Alistair | Management Today, November 1997 | Go to article overview
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Bungey Takes a Jump and Cuts the Cord with Saatchi & Saatchi


Osborne, Alistair, Management Today


Michael Bungey, creator of the Martini girl, is a happy man. From December, he will be free of Charles and Mattrice (now Lord) Saatchi - the advertising duo who for 11 years have had such an influence on his life. Bungey is the new chief executive of the Bates advertising group which, in December, breaks from its parent Cordiant and gains a separate listing on the Stock Exchange.

When the Saatchis bought Bates to run alongside their own Saatchi and Saatchi agency, they tried to build a group around two direct competitors. Worse, they thrust a poison pill down Bates' throat. Procter & Gamble - the consumer products giant that was S&S's trophy client - forbade it or any agency associated with it from picking up work from P&G's competitors. That blocked Bates from 10% of the world advertising market.

'Thereafter we were always in the position of being number two to S&S,' says Bungey. The worst thing was he had no freedom to manage. 'If you wanted to invest for a client, you had to ask head office and there was always a queue.'

Working for the Saatchis was tricky, but no less challenging than their departure. They took their star $400-million Mars confectionery account along with them. 'We showed a hell of a lot of character,' says Bungey. 'We won $500 million of new business within a year.'

It is that character which Bungey has the job of harnessing now Bates is truly independent. 'Independence is heaven-sent for a people business, where the key is being able to motivate staff,' says Bungey, who plans to install incentive schemes throughout Bates. He believes one of his chief management skills is 'always being open to ideas from any quarter'. Bungey is also pleased with the composition of his six-man board, which is made up of a Frenchman, a Canadian, a German, an Australian, an American and, in Bungey, an Englishman.

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