School Reports 2017: M&C Saatchi


Score: 4 
Last year: 5

How the agency rates itself: 6.5

M&C Saatchi doesn’t like to rush things. It waited 11 months before hiring Justin Tindall as chief creative officer in late 2015 to replace Elspeth Lynn. Now, eight months after saying goodbye to chief executive and Lean Mean Fighting Machine co-founder Tom Bazeley, it has yet to replace him. You could argue that Lynn’s and Bazeley’s relatively short tenures suggest there could be something to be gained from making sure to get the right person this time around. But having holes at the top at a time when the agency is in need of regeneration is far from ideal.

The cockiest residents of Golden Square would hate you for saying it, but they have hardly been quick to replace the high-spending losses of a couple of years ago either – as M&C Saatchi’s continued slide in billings attests. In 2016, there were further losses with the high-profile and profitable Transport for London account heading to VCCP, and, DMG Media and Virgin Holidays moving on.

That’s not to say M&C Saatchi didn’t bring in any new business to plug the gaps. It retained its position on the government roster and won work from the Department for Communities and Local Government, the Department for Work and Pensions and the massive £60m anti-extremism brief from the Home Office. M&C Saatchi also captured the main £7m Britain Stronger in Europe account but it would probably rather you didn’t dwell on that.

At the start of 2016, M&C Saatchi plc sold 30% of the UK agency to its management in an attempt to foster the entrepreneurial spirit the network has retained in offices elsewhere around the world. Bazeley’s own brand of entrepreneurialism didn’t last the year.

But, with the rebrand of NatWest showing signs of a creative rebirth at M&C Saatchi under Tindall, maybe it’s too soon to pass final judgment. Tankers like M&C Saatchi take time to alter course.

How the agency describes its year in a tweet

Back to the future: Brutal Simplicity of Thought. Entrepreneurialism. Chutzpah. Creative talent.

Score key: 9 Outstanding 8 Excellent 7 Good 6 Satisfactory 5 Adequate 4 Below average 3 Poor 2 A year to forget 1 Survival in question

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