SAATCHI & SAATCHI: LEADERSHIP CHANGES DOMINATE YEAR

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Agency Rating: **

Saatchi & saatchi got more than its fair share of attention in 1997, but not for all the right reasons. The shop began the year under Cordiant's roof but gained independence with a December separation. Then there was a changing of the guard, with the surprise appointment of the controversial Kevin Roberts to succeed Ed Wax as CEO. New leadership also emerged in the New York office as former London-based Saatchi & Saatchi Chairman Jennifer Laing took over Alan Bishop's position as North American CEO. The San Francisco office also added a new management team while holding onto previously unsteady client Hewlett-Packard Co. Saatchi's 1997 creative work was typically low-profile for the most part -- still, the agency departed from standard airline advertising with an ethereal campaign for newly won Delta Air Lines, and has produced appealing H-P work that at times holds its own against rival Goodby, Silverstein & Partners. On the downside, it lost AOR status for Procter & Gamble Co.'s print buying, but gained other P&G work at the expense of the soon-to-be-defunct Wells BDDP and others.

LOOKING AHEAD

The agency didn't get into many account pitches last year -- and the loss of new-business head Michael Jeary didn't help. Observers are betting that Mr. Jeary's replacement, Director of New Business Avi Dan, can help get the agency back on track. He'll have help from Chief Creative Officer Tod Seisser, heir to Stan Becker. Perhaps Mr. Roberts, a former executive at a New Zealand brewing company, can bring the agency the beer account it's been thirsting for. . . . come to think of it, maybe they'll have a Heineken.

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