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Senior duo to quit M&C’s LIDA marketing agency

M&C Saatchi, currently suffering a torrid time at its flagship ad agency, has suffered another couple of blows at LIDA, its high performing marketing agency.

Havas Helia (formerly EHS) has poached LIDA COO Louise Whitcombe (below) to be its new group managing director while high profile ECD Nicky Bullard is off to become chairman and CCO of McCann’s MRM Meteorite below-the-line agency in the UK. The last thing that quoted M&C needs is turbulence at one of its better performing divisions. The main M&C agency lost Direct Line and Dixons last year and Virgin Holidays earlier this week.

Whitcombe (below), who will work alongside group CEO Tash Whitney, began her career at GGT Direct, moving on to Lowe and DraftFcb. She became deputy managing director at LIDA before becoming CRM Director at BBH. She returned to LIDA in 2013 as COO.

Whitcombe says: “I am very excited about joining Havas. It is a group which is seeing exciting changes and I am looking forward to driving the business forward and overseeing two very significant agencies (Helia has an operation in Cirencester as well as London).”

Low profile MRM is actually a big part of the Interpublic/McCann empire. It bought independent agency Meteorite a few years ago, which seems to have been a successful deal, but its creative reputation is firmly below the horizon. Bullard, who has chaired juries at Cannes among other things, has clearly been brought in to remedy that.

McCann Worldgroup creative chairman Rob Reilly says: “We are focused on integrating all of the unique creative offerings of MRM across all of the McCann Worldgroup agencies. Adding talents like Nicky in London to the senior creative leadership team expands our ability to deliver across platforms and clients.”

As for M&C, there will no doubt be further developments as the founders and others including Worldwide CEO Moray MacLennan try to knock it back into shape. In its ten years as a public company M&C has grown rapidly, now employing about 1800 people in 25 offices worldwide. Its current market cap is £237m although after tax profits in 2014 were less than £2m.

As such it’s hard to gauge what it might be worth to a buyer. One who might chance his arm is WPP’s Sir Martin Sorrell. Sorrell made his reputation as finance director of Saatchi and Saatchi when it was run by Charles and Maurice Saatchi, both founders of M&C.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.
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