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The power of a marketing-oriented corporate chairman scorned was vividly demonstrated when British Airway's Sir Colin Marshall transformed Maurice Saatchi's fledgling London shop into a credible international advertising network overnight.

After a cliffhanger of an account review, when even Maurice Saatchi must have wondered if he would lose the four-way race to the astonishingly good Bartle Bogle Hegarty shop, Sir Colin personally handed BA's $95 million account to the new M&C Saatchi Agency in May.

What Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising, dumped after a decade of global partnership with BA, hadn't counted on was the long arm of Sir Colin, 61, who opposed the agency's treatment of Mr. Saatchi.

It wasn't as if they weren't warned. Before the fateful December board meeting that ousted Mr. Saatchi as chairman of the agency holding company now named Cordiant, Sir Colin twice told its management that Mr. Saatchi was the "linchpin" of the Saatchi/British Airways relationship.

True to his word, eight days after Mr. Saatchi left the company he had co-founded, BA announced its review.

Arriving late and grim-faced, BA's chairman sat in on the final round of presentations in April by Saatchi, J. Walter Thompson Co., Bartle Bogle, and Maurice Saatchi's new agency.

Even though Mr. Saatchi had only a single, temporary office and his key executives were sidelined during the pitch by legal disputes with former employer Saatchi & Saatchi, BA is widely believed to have chosen him at Sir Colin's behest.

The move stands as a tribute to a client's faith in an adman as the keeper of his brand-or a high-level executive's pique at being ignored.

Equally hard to ignore is the powerfully dramatic turnaround engineered on the international scene by Robert Louis-Dreyfus.

His marketing and financial savvy have propelled Adidas from a money-losing also-ran behind Nike Inc. and Reebok International to a profitable contender with an updated brand image.

So profitable, in fact, that Chairman-CEO Mr. Louis-Dreyfus, 49, bought the company this year.

After the Frenchman managed to rescue Saatchi & Saatchi Co. from the brink of financial ruin in his three years as its chief executive starting in 1990, Adidas' creditor banks lured him to the client side to save the troubled German sports shoe company.

He's doing just that in his characteristic style: Giving the company a broad strategic vision and leaving the execution to trusted subordinates.

Under his leadership, Adidas has marketed more aggressively, sponsored non-traditional sports like streetball and churned out fast-paced youth-oriented commercials for MTV and movie theaters.

Timely new product launches included the Predator soccer boot, coinciding with last year's World Cup soccer championship.

The payoff is that Adidas is rapidly catching up with rivals.

Still, in his own words: "It will take another two years until Adidas is as healthy as rivals Nike or Reebok," Mr. Louis-Dreyfus said when announcing Adidas' $100 million pretax profit for 1994 earlier this year.

Less well known, but still a potent force in international marketing, is Mario Monti, the European Union's commissioner in charge of the never-ending task of forging a single European market from 15 disparate nations.

As such, the Italian-born former economics professor is effectively the EU's marketing commissioner, and that distinction places him in Ad Age's Power 50.

Unlike many of the EU politicians in Brussels, the 53-year-old Mr. Monti is a breath of fresh air. A devotee of the economic credo of Adam Smith, he understands the need to sell the same product in the same way across borders without cumbersome local regulations.

A long-awaited green paper on commercial communication-EU jargon for a document that will set policy on advertising and marketing-has fallen squarely in his lap.

The result, expected this month, will be a standard marketing rule book for all 15 EU member states covering everything from alcoholic beverage advertising to on-pack sales promotions.

Another aspect of his job is to rule on marketers' complaints against local laws and decide whether a country is acting against the EU's single-market regulations. In a recent decision, he sided with candy giant Mars Inc., who had complained that the German government wanted to ban the words "10% extra" on Mars' chocolate bar wrappers.

He also has been one of the quickest in Brussels to identify the importance of new media and the need to speed its development rather than stifle it with early over-regulation.

"The nature of future communications networks is that they will not and should not be stopped at national frontiers," Mr. Monti has said.

"We need a framework of cooperation to ensure the global development of the information society."


Robert Louis-Dreyfus


Budget: $210 million for marketing

Agency: Leagas Delaney, London.

Career: Before becoming Adidas' chairman-CEO in 1993, Mr. Louis-Dreyfus was recruited in 1990 to be the first chief executive of Saatchi & Saatchi Co. A Frenchman with a Harvard MBA, Mr. Louis-Dreyfus worked in his family's commodities business before spending most of the 1980s as chief operating officer and then chief executive of pharmaceutical-market research company IMS. He negotiated the IMS sale to Dun & Bradstreet in 1988.


Mario Monti

European Union

Career: A rarity for a European Union Commissioner, he was a professor of economics at Italy's Bocconi University (and not a professional politician) when he was recruited last year for a five-year term as one of the European Union's 20 commissioners. His experience in the business world includes a board of director's seat for Italian automaker Fiat and as an economic commentator for Italian daily Corriere della Sera.


Sir Colin Marshall

British Airways

Ad budget: $95 million

Agency: M&C Saatchi Agency

Career: Sir Colin went from management trainee at Hertz Corp. in Chicago in 1948 to chief executive of the "world's favourite airline" in 1983, collecting a knighthood along the way. From Hertz, he moved to rival Avis, eventually becoming president, CEO and co-chairman. He left in 1981 for Sears, Roebuck & Co. as U.K. chief executive; he joined BA as chief executive in 1983 and became chairman a decade later.

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