M&C Saatchi launches Open house as veteran agency begins to recover its mojo

Sometimes it takes a nasty shock to get you back on your game. England’s cricket team dropped fast bowler Stuart Broad, 34, for the opening test match against West Indies – much to his chagrin.

Since then Broad has been taking wickets for fun and even scored a rapid half century.

M&C Saatchi hasn’t quite been the adland version of Broad but it’s confounded at least some of its critics by securing extra investment (including a £7m government coronavirus business interruption loan), talking round its bankers and winning new business from BP, Iceland (the country) and TikTok. What’s more, the quoted agency group is even promising a modest first half profit.

M&C almost hit the buffers last year as it unearthed an £11.6m accounting black hole and saw the departure of various directors including co-founder Lord (Maurice) Saatchi. We have still to hear full details of accounting debacle but the venerable agency looks out of the woods for now.

It also seems to have recaptured its headline-grabbing skill of old with a striking “scream” campaign for Iceland tourism and its latest wheeze, ‘Open House,’ a new free eight-week virtual training programme open to anyone who wants to learn about a career in advertising.

Very timely as the ad industry is under fire across the world for its lack of diversity, not just in terms of race or gender but also social background.

M&C Saatchi CEO Camilla Kemp says: “Whilst we have always been committed to attracting diverse talent, the reality is we haven’t done enough. This is one step we are taking to accelerate change, inviting a broader range of people from different walks of life, with different perspectives and different ways of thinking, into our industry.

“We’re aiming to create a sense of urgency, as the way in which we bring people into the industry must be changed more rapidly and more radically.”

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About Stephen Foster

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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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