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Maurice Saatchi is a man with a plan for building a global agency. AN IMMODEST PROPOSAL:MAURICE TAKES ON WORLD

By Published on .

SYDNEY-Make no mistake about it: The M in M&C Saatchi Agency stands for Maurice, not modesty.

Maurice Saatchi last week began what he called "our little grand tour," a whistle stop journey that will include Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo and his first trip to Australia.

His new agency, he told 250 ad industry executives here, will be "a giant white canvas that would cover the world, with nothing on it, no systems, no rules and the unique opportunity to build the type of agency that we all dream about."

Big talk, yes, not to mention grand imagery reminiscent of his old agency's last work for British Airways, in which it covered a mere island in fabric. But then, Mr. Saatchi might be forgiven for some big talk, given that M&C Saatchi has racked up $211 million in business since launching this year-nearly all of it from Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising, including British Airways.

It's a new agency, and a new Maurice. Sipping cappuccino in his penthouse suite atop the Regent Hotel overlooking Sydney's sunny harbor, he gave Advertising Age some insights into his plans to fashion a new, global Saatchi brand. The agency will get a formal worldwide opening in September.

"Global creativity and ....technology are probably the two greatest challenges that the industry has-which we will try and face, and tackle head-on," Mr. Saatchi said. "Those are the two areas this new operation will concentrate on."

He even enthused about the joys of working in his open-office London shop with a staff that is approaching 100 and growing rapidly.

"It's a very interesting new way of working," said Mr. Saatchi, who at his previous agency had a wall constructed between himself and his seldom-seen brother Charles and other employees. "I really must say I like it very much .....it's packed with energy, which you can only get from a roomful of 17- to 28-year-olds."

(Privately, one amused M&C Saatchi executive in London predicted Mr. Saatchi will end up with his own office when the agency moves to permanent quarters this summer: "Maurice only THINKS he wants an open plan office.")

"Globalization is probably the most powerful force in the world of advertising at present," Mr. Saatchi said. "We have to be on a global scale. When this operation started out, it had to start with a bang, if you like. We had to go from zero to having global capabilities literally in a day, and that's what we have done."

The British Airways and Qantas Airways accounts are so crucial to M&C Saatchi's overnight leap to the coveted status of international agency that Mr. Saatchi and his partners have promised not to take on new business in the U.S. or Australia without both carriers' approval. In London, where M&C Saatchi is currently tipped to pick up one of Courage Ltd.'s beer brands, the agency is free to pursue any new business.

Surprisingly, the man who was ousted from the last agency he built by his own shareholders doesn't rule out taking the M&C Saatchi Agency public someday. He said he is "neutral" toward the idea of going public but "It's too early to contemplate."

"Lightning doesn't strike twice," Mr. Saatchi said. He paused, then chuckled. "Well, rarely." Laurel Wentz in London contributed to this story.

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