They teamed up for a joint 40th birthday party last week, as the world knows by now, but surely a longer term tie-up is completely out of the question?
Logic would indicate so, Saatchi & Saatchi is owned by Publicis and M&C is owned by Maurice Saatchi, David Kershaw, Bill Muirhead et al. And a few outside shareholders as it’s a quoted company.
But that didn’t stop Maurice Saatchi, who was having the time of his life last week with appearances on the BBC and everywhere else, saying that he hoped to see the two back together ”although maybe not in my time.”
Saatchis in the UK has resolutely failed to fly since the brothers’ departure, maybe because the stardust has settled on Golden Square (M&C Saatchi) rather than Charlotte Street. Although the Charlotte Street outpost has arguably produced the better work.
Internationally Saatchis is a success, in the far East anyway, whereas M&C’s micro-network has remained pretty micro.
In the UK M&C Saatchi is in the top ten agencies whereas Saatchis isn’t, which is one reason why worldwide boss Kevin Roberts shoe-horned Publicis-owned Fallon and its management of Robert Senior, Laurence Green and Richard Flintham into Charlotte Street to shake things up. But Green and Flintham have just departed to set up their own agency after having a management buy-out turned down by Publicis boss Maurice Levy.
Senior, who’s in charge of the whole shebang, and new Fallon CEO Gail Gallie may turn things round but it’s certain to be long haul. Might not a deal with M&C solve all these problems rather neatly?
M&C plus Saatchi Fallon would create a substantial UK agency. M&C would love to be part of the Saatchi international network (although they would act as if they owned it).
But what’s in it for Maurice Levy and who runs the show?
Well it wouldn’t be Kevin Roberts, of ‘Lovemarks’ fame, the current worldwide boss of Saatchis. And it probably wouldn’t be Senior either. The likes of Maurice Saatchi and his chums just don’t take to being second on the bill. Look at the 40th party, officially it was a Saatchis party but it was taken over by Maurice and co and their old mates (half the Tory party including Margaret Thatcher).
So what’s in it for Levy? A big agency in London which he hasn’t got at the moment – Saatchis, Publicis and Fallon are all languishing. A BBH-style deal in which Publicis owns 49 per cent of a revived and re-united Saatchis (but has first call on the money)? That might be attractive.
Even a London agency called Saatchi Publicis, led by Maurice and co, which would stand a chance of knocking Omnicom’s AMV BBDO off its number one perch. Now that would really be appealing, and would annoy WPP’s Sir Martin Sorrell no end.
So maybe Maurice’s rosy vision of a great re-unification might be grounded in reality after all.