Will M&C Saatchi take Etihad to Manhattan?

M&C Saatchi executives have been grumbling into their cappuccinos for years about losing the British Airways account to Bartle Bogle Hegarty.

BA was the account that made M&C pssible (or gave it lift off anyway) when it followed Charles and Maurice Saatchi, David Kershaw, Bill Muirhead and Co to M&C when the Saatchi brothers (pictured) were turfed out of the agency they founded by revolting shareholders.

Saatchi & Saatchi’s ‘Manhattan’ ad for BA was seen by many as its finest moment. Whether it was or not, it summed up the agency’s penchant for headline-grabbing pyrotechnics and its undeniable skill in persuading clients to buy such mega-scale productions.

This was made almost 30 years ago but that’s yesterday for the M&C Saatchi veterans. And now they’ve landed Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways, worth £100m apparently but they think big in Abu Dhabi, pouring half a billion pounds or so into pet football team Manchester City and its Etihad Stadium, for example.

So it’s a heaven-sent opportunity for M&C to produce another big idea, like its ‘The world’s favourite airline’ for BA (at the time it wasn’t, actually it probably never has been) and show those interlopers at BBH up the road in London’s Soho how it should be done.

BBH, after years of struggling, finally came up with the goods for BA with last year’s ‘To fly, to serve’ campaign. M&C will be determined to outdo this so we should be seeing some fireworks from Etihad.

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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.