Two brothers who fled their home in Baghdad to start a new life in England because of religious persecution went on to found the biggest independent creative agency network in the world. Today, the name “Saatchi” has become a global brand, synonymous with ground-breaking and innovative advertising campaigns.
Brothers Charles and Maurice Saatchi were born to textile merchant Nathan Saatchi and his wife Daisy in the 1940s, in the capital city of Iraq. The family fled to London in 1947 in anticipation of the persecution of thousands of Jews during a period of great religious unrest.
The brothers attended grammar school and university in London, before choosing different career paths, with Charles entering advertising and Maurice joining a publishing company, but when they came together in 1970 to form Saatchi and Saatchi, they were soon creating some of the most well-known and best-loved advertising campaigns the world had ever seen.
Saatchi and Saatchi was founded as a full-service advertising agency on Charlotte Street in London by Maurice and Charles, who were then aged 24 and 27 respectively. They had their philosophy – “Nothing is impossible” – carved into the steps of their headquarters.
The company’s roots dated back to 1967, when Charles, a former copywriter at Benton and Bowles in New York, joined forces with art director Ross Cramer to launch Cramer Saatchi in London. Maurice joined the business in 1970 and the company was renamed Saatchi and Saatchi.
The consultancy’s iconic “Pregnant Man” advert, created for the Health Education Council, catapulted them to national success in 1970. Aimed at encouraging the use of contraception to reduce unwanted pregnancies, it asked, “Would you be more careful if it was you that got pregnant?” and showed a photo of an apparently pregnant man.
The ad nearly didn’t happen, as the agency’s creative team feared an adverse public reaction, but Charles loved it. Nearly 50 years later, the advert remains one of the most famous in the history of advertising.
The Saatchi brothers quickly built a solid client base and this included a host of famous blue-chip clients by 1975, such as Associated Newspapers, Cunard, British Leyland, Dunlop, Brutus Jeans, Nestle and National Magazines.
The 1970s and ’80s saw a period of rapid expansion and acquisitions, particularly in the United States. Between 1972 and 1987, Saatchi acquired more than 35 marketing services businesses, including four major advertising agency networks.
Saatchi dominated the 1980s in creative terms, in a way that has never been repeated since. Its clients have included Procter and Gamble, British Airways, Weightwatchers, Mattessons, Direct Line Insurance, Haagen-Dazs, Asda, EE, the HSBC bank, Wall’s food and Visa.
The NSPCC’s striking Full Stop campaign against child abuse was also created by Saatchi and Saatchi – urging people to take various actions to stop child abuse.
Saatchi and Saatchi today has 114 offices spread across 67 countries, with more than 6,500 employees. The agency is responsible for many well-known advertising campaigns, such as Visa’s “Life flows better”, T-Mobile’s “Life is for sharing” and the National Lottery’s famous finger of fortune and the slogan, “It’s you!”
Major changes took place in late 1994, when the Saatchi brothers left the company they had created following a shareholder coup. However, they went on to form a new creative agency, M&C Saatchi, in 1995. It wasn’t long before the new agency had its own growing portfolio of major clients and the Saatchi brothers’ creative genius achieved global domination a second time.
By early 1996, the network included offices in London, Hong Kong, Singapore, Auckland, Sydney and New York. In 2012, there were 27 offices in total, including in Stockholm, Abu Dhabi, Cape Town, Milan, Johannesburg, Beirut, Tokyo, Beijing, São Paulo, Mumbai, Los Angeles and Geneva.
Based at Golden Square, Soho, M&C Saatchi boasts a multitude of major public and private sector clients today, such as the Department for Work and Pensions, the Home office, Royal Mail, VisitBritain, NatWest, Unilever, E-on, Siemens, Mitsubishi Corporation and many more.
Charles Saatchi, now aged 74, is also an art collector and philanthropist. He bought a 30,000 sq. ft warehouse on Boundary Road, St John’s Wood in the early 1980s and commissioned architect Max Gordon to transform it into the Saatchi Gallery.
He opened it to the public in February 1985 and all the art he had collected was put on display. His book, “My Name is Charles Saatchi and I am an Artoholic”, was published in 2009 and he also launched a TV reality show on the BBC, School of Saatchi, where young, aspiring artists could showcase their work.
He was married to celebrity chef and author Nigella Lawson from 2003 to 2013 and the couple lived in Chelsea, but the marriage ended in divorce.
Today, M&C Saatchi remains one of the world’s largest global communications and advertising agencies, boasting many famous international clients. The Saatchi brothers’ original motto, “Nothing is impossible”, remains central to its approach.
Automatic Access is proud to list M&C Saatchi as one of our clients – we fitted sliding doors at Saatchi in Golden Square, Soho. This is further testament to our service excellence – we design and install automatic doors for a diverse range of businesses, public buildings and educational establishments.
Please contact us for further information.