Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Saatchi Is Still Thinking Brutally Simple

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Saatchi Is Still Thinking Brutally Simple

Article excerpt

Byline: Gideon Spanier

FORGET Charles and Maurice Saatchi. Over the last 40-plus years that the brothers' name has dominated British advertising, arguably no one has done more to sustain the Saatchi legend than its top creative, Jeremy Sinclair.

From Cramer Saatchi in 1967 to Saatchi & Saatchi in 1970 and the launch of breakaway agency M&C Saatchi in 1995, he has always been there -- and still is, long after Charles quit and Maurice eased back.

Sinclair is the thoughtful, self-effacing creative who has overseen every key campaign: From the Pregnant Man (for the Health Education Council) and the scissors cutting purple silk (for Silk Cut cigarettes) to "Labour isn't working" (for the Tories) and "The World's Favourite Airline" (British Airways).

And then there was "Australians wouldn't give a XXXX for any other lager" (Castlemaine), Tony Blair's Demon Eyes (again for Sinclair's beloved Tories) and more.

Now, not before time, Sinclair has produced a book about the agency's creative ethos, entitled Brutal Simplicity of Thought: How It Changed The World, with an introduction by Maurice. There is also an exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum.

This is not a showcase of Saatchi work. The book is loosely based on the agency's staff training manual and looks at how brutally simple but brilliant ideas have changed human life. God, coins, the traffic light and Google are some of the examples.

M&C Saatchi, based in Soho's Golden Square, adopted the mantra "brutal simplicity of thought" in 1995 but the concept has been an influence since the very beginning of Saatchi.

"It started with a thought from Bertrand Russell, 'the painful necessity of thought'," says Sinclair, referring to the 20th-century philosopher. "The process of getting to it is very much a process of elimination. You've written something and you remove as much as you can without destroying the essence of it. Very often it's your favourite bits that need to go. The brutality is to be brutal with your own foibles and leave the glistening truths of the situation, the problem, the challenge."

For Sinclair, inspiration is both verbal and visual. He recalls creating the Pregnant Man, the acclaimed 1969 campaign for contraception. "It's two words and it's visual, so one follows the other. In that particular case, the picture came first and the words a nanosecond later."

Sinclair, 64, who trained at Watford Art School, believes the genesis of a great creative idea is mysterious -- and should remain so, even in this era when marketers crave research and digital data that they can measure.

"The most important thing is you don't know where ideas come from. If you know, it's not creative, it's derivative. When creative people come to me with an idea and say, 'It's a bit like. …

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