Saatchi & Saatchi London hires former BBC Radio 1 boss Andy Parfitt as talent supremo

Well this is an ambitious move by Saatchi London (and Fallon) boss Robert Senior; can radio programme guy Andy Parfitt (pictured), former head of the UK’s biggest pop music radio station Radio 1, recruit the kind of people Saatchi London (and Fallon, what’s the difference?) needs to put it back on top of the creative heap?

In truth Saatchi London, now owned by Publicis Groupe, hasn’t been top of the creative pops since the old Saatchi & Saatchi, owned by the brothers, imploded in 1995 and Maurice and Charles left to form M&C Saatchi.

It’s had its moments of course, most notably with Fallon’s famous ‘Gorilla’ ad for Cadbury (PG-owned Fallon is separate to Saatchi in most places but part of Senior’s empire in London).

Fallon has since been hit by the departure of London founders Laurence Green and Richard Fintham (although not, of course, another one in Senior) who have teamed up with former Cadbury marketing director Phil Rumbol to form new agency 101.

Parfitt, who quit Radio 1 after 13 years earlier this year, may be just the man for the job: music and musicians are more crucial to ads than ever these days, witnessed by some recent ads for Audi, Carling and John Lewis among many others. And Cadbury’s ‘Gorilla’ naturally, which almost made Phil Collins hip.

Senior, who’s a capable and highly-respected manager at Saatchi, has two problems. One is that he’s lumbered with worldwide CEO Kevin Roberts’ ‘Lovemarks’ philosophy, a brave attempt to explain why ads work but, ultimately, superficial. And creatives hate formulas.

The second is that the true spirit of Saatchi is still thought by many to reside a mile or so down the road in Golden Square at M&C Saatchi where Maurice Saatchi is still a force (Charlie left more or less as soon as it had started to concentrate on his art empire).

Will Andy Parfitt be part of the answer? Search me guv, but it’s brave move.

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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.