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CHARLOTTE BEERS: SAATCHI PEACEMAKER? BOARD SEEKS EXEC AS BUFFER BETWEEN CO-FOUNDER, CEO

By Published on .

Saatchi & Saatchi Co., in its search for a high-ranking executive buffer between the feuding Maurice Saatchi and Charles Scott, is eyeing Ogilvy & Mather's Charlotte Beers for a new revenue development post at the holding company.

The Saatchi board last week announced it was looking for a senior advertising and marketing executive for the new post. The board also reiterated support for both Messrs. Saatchi and Scott, saying "the interests of the company are best served" by the men remaining chairman and chief executive, respectively.

A spokeswoman for Ms. Beers, O&M Worldwide chairman-ceo, said the idea that the executive would be approached for the Saatchi post "is not preposterous." Ms. Beers couldn't be reached for comment.

Ms. Beers, courted by Saatchi in the past, has close ties to Procter & Gamble Co., a major Saatchi client, from her days at Tatham-Laird & Kudner, Chicago.

A Saatchi spokesman said the new executive could come from inside or outside the company.

Ironically, Ms. Beers, burdened by operational responsibilities, hasn't been the new-business magnet O&M and parent WPP Group hoped she would be when she was hired two years ago. This year, she has been under pressure to hasten executive changes to strengthen the agency and lure new business.

Saatchi finds itself in a similar situation, particularly in the U.S. Messrs. Saatchi and Scott appeared to reach a truce last week so that the company can focus on its desperate need for new business.

"It was a good resolution; I'm glad it's over," said Ed Wax, chairman-ceo of Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising Worldwide. "Let's move on."

"Have Maurice and Charlie Scott buried the hatchet?" mused one agency insider. "Nobody really knows."

Supporters of Maurice Saatchi within the company have advocated a higher profile for the executive while criticizing Mr. Scott. Scott supporters cite his approval by investors and bankers. The client-supported Maurice faction has advocated a bigger role for Mr. Saatchi in new business,criticizing Mr. Scott for the company's sluggish performance. Scott supporters feel Mr. Saatchi could have helped more to keep accounts and bring in business.

That need for new business was accented by Campbell Mithun Esty's loss last week of the $40 million Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp. account to Grey Advertising, New York, and Tatham Euro RSCG, Chicago.

Although Mr. Scott wants to keep CME intact as Saatchi's third network, he could try to sell or merge it with Backer Spielvogel Bates Worldwide.

Additionally, Saatchi is accelerating U.S. reassignments. In one of his first moves as ceo of North America and president of Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising Worldwide, Bill Muirhead is expected to name a new ceo for Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising in New York, a post now held by Harvey Hoffenberg, also chairman and chief creative officer.

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