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News from the Big Apple

November 30, 2010

Flickr: Brendan Powell Smith

We were in New York last week attending our M&C SAATCHI Worldwide Meeting. Myself, Zeyad and Denise. Gordon was unfortunately unable to travel. And Jacques was watching the shop. It was an excellent trip on many fronts – both personally and professionally. Arrived on a crisp Sunday morning. Once refreshed, met for a Bellini-inspired lunch at Harry Cipriani of Venice (Harry’s Bar – inventors of the Bellini) with close friend and CFO of M&C SAATCHI Australia, Jeff Krug as well as a top freelance creative director and designer that I’ve been friends with forever. As you’d expect, the talk was all advertising (not boring) but what struck me as so interesting was that most of it was about the big ideas that we are working on for our clients in our various markets – versus the big ads. Clearly Social Media, Content, Activation, PR, Retail and Design are the big focus areas. The ATL is now simply a table-stake. But still key to building big reputations on both sides…

That afternoon was spent battling the hoards down 5th Avenue to see what was new and interesting (yeah – bought stuff too). The shops are not busy. Sunday afternoon and a month from Christmas in NYC, you’d expect a lot of shoppers – but quite worryingly, not. The American economy as we know has a long road towards real versus propped up recovery. And a lack of consumer spending doesn’t help. But then again, banks aren’t lending like they used to. That night we had a great dinner at Caravaggio with some key clients from SA that happened to be in NYC at the same time as well as Moray MacLennan, our worldwide CEO. Unfortunately we did not go home after dinner and took in the “nightlife” at some rooftop club in the meatpacking district. Panado, anyone?

The Worldwide meeting was fascinating with a strong focus on retail where we are undisputed leaders and specialist in many markets. Lisa Thomas, CEO of the UK Group gave a brilliant talk/workshop covering leading trends and thinking in retail spanning many markets. Her case studies included both case studies of clients as well as key competitors who are doing powerful work. We will share this where relevant with our clients and the agency team starting this week.

We had a very good workshop around Social Media with every market sharing best-practice case studies and learnings. What is always key about our approach is that there is always a sale in mind versus getting off purely on the entertainment factor – which generally seems to be the order of the day. We saw some particularly nice work in this “channel” coming out of New Zealand, LA, Australia and Germany. Legendary Bill Muirhead, one of the founders of M&C SAATCHI plc and Partner, gave a strong push around continuing to build capability globally in this arena.

M&C SAATCHI Sport & Entertainment shared numerous case studies for some of the global blue-chip accounts. The thinking here is excellent and off relatively conservative budgets, we are inspired by what they had developed off a powerful base idea. Some of their examples featured leveraging existing client sign-ups like Andy Murray, Lewis Hamilton, Wayne Rooney and Christiano Ronaldo. The big names clearly add massive impact to the concepts but with so little access time, clever editing and a great storyline ramp up the perceived involvement.

David Kershaw, CEO of the Plc (Founder and Partner) and Moray shared the likely performance for the year for the parent company, global offices as well as their vision and growth strategy. Clearly a strong, well-considered and confident plan. No fluff. Just “brutally simple”. Jeremy Sinclair, our global Chairman and Founder flew in for 5 hours in NY from London to workshop and talk about “Saatchiness”. Jeremy worked for many decades with Charles Saatchi as creative partners. We were given ringside seats to his thinking and strategy around David Cameron’s successful election campaign. What was amazing for me was beside Maurice, Lord Saatchi, not being there, the key founders of Saatchi & Saatchi and from 1995, M&C Saatchi, were all in the room. Charles retired a few years back and now focuses on art, namely, The Saatchi Gallery. Jeremy’s talk focused on the essence and behaviours around our belief that “nothing is impossible” and “brutally simple thinking”. We now have a great book dramatizing this which should become available for distribution early in the new year.

The closing speaker was Dennison Young, JR. He was Rudolph Giuliani’s right hand man in turning New York around as a city. He is now CEO of Giuliani Partners, a consultancy. He shared the strategy and approach for turning the Big Apple around from lack-lustre crime infestation back to the jewel we know it to be. As always, it’s all in the detail.

So fresh, inspired and full of ideas. As we head toward year-end, 4 weeks away, there is still much to be done before the Christmas cheer!!

One Comment leave one →
  1. December 1, 2010 1:47 pm

    Hello Mike. It is indeed a crazy time of the year but I had to take time out to read your articles after receiving the company news update. I really enjoy your style of writting. I’m sure you must hear that often?
    I may not always comment but I’ve read all your articles – when are you going to publish a book?


    Debbie Ihlenfeldt

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