It’s not all Spring shoots and glasses of Pimms in London adland, despite the widely-held belief that the economy, and UK adspend, is on the up and up.
Indie agency Johnny Fearless is closing its doors after four years in business following the loss of its Grafton GB account (Buildbase, Plumbase etc) and, just around the cormer in Golden Square, M&C Saatchi has been making a number of redundancies, some senior.
The latter hasn’t gone down too well with M&C staff. Not that such things ever do, of course, but the the angst has been compounded by the fact that M&C’s four founders awarded themselves bonuses of around £2m each a couple of weeks ago as a share award scheme vested. The four – Maurice Saatchi, Bill Muirhead, Jeremy Sinclair and David Kershaw – have done pretty well over the years. On top of their handsome salaries they have traded the aforementioned Golden Square building (left), which they and not the company owned, twice.
M&C Saatchi’s London HQ had a rough old 2014, losing nearly £100m of business in Dixons and Direct Line. The agency topped up its coffers by selling the majority of Walker Media to Publicis Groupe for around £30m. The upshot was that £10m acquisition Lean Mean Fighting Machine, headed by Tom Bazeley, in effect took over the agency. This didn’t go down too well with some of the older hands either.
The M&C gang are a resilient lot and have surfed choppy corporate waters in the past, most notably when they split from Saatchi & Saatchi 20 or so years ago when Maurice and brother Charles were defenestrated by irate investors.
But rebuilding morale will be quite a task when it looks as though there’s one financial reality for the bosses and another for everyone else.