Saatchi Lords It over Old Agency

Article excerpt


ORD Saatchi is apparently not a man to gloat, but he could be forgiven for being a little smug right now. His new agency, M&C Saatchi, has just overtaken his old agency, Saatchi & Saatchi, in billings - the amount of money an agency's clients spend on their advertising campaigns.

M&C now has billings of [pound]244m, an increase of 7% over the year to September, making it the UK's sixth biggest agency. Saatchi & Saatchi, meanwhile, has fallen in the league table to seventh biggest, with billings down 13% to [pound]235m.

Lord Saatchi, his brother Charles and the "three amigos" - Bill Muirhead, David Kershaw and Jeremy Sinclair - co-own the new agency. All resigned from Saatchi & Saatchi five years ago amid bitter recrimination after the US fund manager David Herro demanded changes at the top in the name of shareholder value.

"There was no plan. There still isn't. This company's birth was a happy accident - a different experience from Saatchi & Saatchi, which was always driven by a plan to get to the top," says Lord Saatchi.

With clients including British Airways, Trinity Mirror, Glaxo Wellcome, Gallaher and the police, M&C is now the biggest privat-ely-owned agency in the UK.

It no longer works for the Tory party - 20 years was enough - even though the Saatchis produced the most famous political advertising of the past 50 years. The "Labour isn't working" poster created for Margaret Thatcher in 1979 remains a classic.

However, M&C does have a way to go before it is the biggest agency full stop. That is a title which belongs to AMV.BBDO, owned by US group Omnicom, which has billings of [pound]399m.

Saatchi pays fulsome tribute to his agency's senior staff - his fellow owners, of course, but also to the younger generation, including joint chief executives Nick Hurrell and Moray MacLennan and managing director Tim Duffy in particular. …