Saatchi, Charles (1943- ) and Maurice (1946- )

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Born in 1946 in Baghdad and raised in London, Maurice Nathan Saatchi began what was to become one of the most notorious advertising careers of the late 20th century in 1970. His older brother, Charles Nathan, born in 1943, also in Baghdad, led Maurice into the business. Charles had started out in advertising five years earlier, first as a copywriter with the London office of Benton & Bowles and later with Collett Dickenson Pearce. After gaining experience on accounts such as Ford Motor Co. and Selfridges department store, Charles joined forces with fellow copywriter Ross Cramer to open their own agency, CramerSaatchi.

While Charles was working his way up in the advertising world, Maurice completed his education at the London School of Economics. From there he went to work for Haymarket Publications, publisher of Campaign, Britain's leading advertising trade publication.

A new type of agency

Charles and Maurice joined forces and, on Sept. 14, 1970, opened Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising. As explained in a teaser ad in London's Sunday Times, Saatchi & Saatchi eliminated the account exec in favor of a "coordinator who is not briefed by the client, does not brief the creative people, does not pass judgment on ads and does not present ads to the clients, but works with the creators as a day-to-day administrator."

Charles, a brilliant copywriter, shied away from publicity. Maurice, on the other hand, was outgoing and gregarious. Though he did not hold an official title in the company, Maurice acted as the director, soliciting new business. At a time when advertising agencies generally did not pursue the clients of rival shops, Maurice aggressively targeted new accounts. Saatchi & Saatchi quickly developed a reputation for outstanding and outlandish creative work.

One of the most important accounts developed by Maurice was that of Conservative Party candidate for prime minister, Margaret Thatcher. In 1978, the Conservative Party, facing strong opposition from the reigning Labour Party, decided to take a new approach to its advertising. Rather than relying on volunteers to develop its advertising message as had been done earlier, Communications Director Gordon Reece hired Saatchi & Saatchi to develop an edgy campaign attacking the Labour Party.

The agency's first ad carried the headline "Labour isn't working" above a photo of an unemployment line. In 1979, Ms. Thatcher won the election. Maurice maintained the agency's ties to the Conservative Party, later adding John Major to its client list.

By 1973, Maurice turned to conquering other agencies. His goal was to make Saatchi & Saatchi the largest advertising agency in the world. In 1975, the agency took over Garland-Compton, giving Saatchi & Saatchi a listing on the London Stock Exchange and vaulting it to No. 5 in the British advertising market. By the end of the 1970s, Saatchi & Saatchi reached No. 1 in Britain.

Taking on the world

Having conquered the U.K., Maurice turned his sights on the world, particularly on the U.S.-based Ted Bates Worldwide. In May 1986, Saatchi acquired Bates for $450 million, making Saatchi & Saatchi the largest advertising holding company in the world.

Unfortunately, a string of costly acquisitions and lack of attention to daily operations had left the company in financial trouble. Although Charles withdrew from active involvement in the business, Maurice developed a reputation as a man about town, wining and dining clients and spending extravagantly.

In 1990, American funds manager David Herro began investing in the agency and, as the company continued to struggle, Mr. Herro identified Maurice as the problem. By the mid-1990s, Mr. Herro undertook a plan to oust the agency's cofounder. In December 1994, Maurice was dismissed from the company; his brother and several top executives soon followed.

Maurice immediately started a new agency, originally dubbed the New Saatchi Agency, and began to attract some of his former company's top clients, particularly British Airways. His goal was to ruin the agency he had built.

British Airways moved its business to the renamed M&C Saatchi, and the agency went on to gain accounts such as Mars Inc. and Pedigree Foods. In 1999, Campaign named M&C Saatchi its Agency of the Year.

In 1996, Prime Minister John Major awarded Maurice the title Lord Saatchi. By the end of the 20th century, Maurice also controlled subsidiaries Megalomedia, a media services company, and eMCSaatchi, a digital communications company.

While Maurice's reputation grew, Charles' influence diminished to the point where his presence in the agency became little more than ceremonial. As Charles' involvement in advertising lessened, he turned to his longtime interest in art collecting.

In 2004, M&C Saatchi moved to raise funds for expansion by flotation on the Alternative Investment Market in the U.K. The company said in July 2004 it would use the potential $10 million to expand in continental Europe. The company already had a New York office servicing British Airways.

Biography

Charles
Born June 6, 1943, Baghdad; attended Christ College briefly, 1959; joined Benton & Bowles, London, as a copywriter, 1965; joined Collet Dickenson Pearce, 1966; opened CramerSaatchi, 1970; launched M&C Saatchi, 1995.

Maurice
Born June 21, 1946, Baghdad; graduated from London School of Economics, 1967; joined Haymarket Publications, late 1960s; established Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising with brother Charles, September 1970; dismissed from Saatchi & Saatchi, December 1994; started M&C Saatchi, 1995; awarded title Lord Saatchi, 1996.

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