What I Learned At Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising

First A Bit On Dancer Fitzgerald Sample

clarapellerI started my advertising career at Dancer Fitzgerald Sample, New York’s largest advertising agency. During my tenure, it was named Agency of the Year and had a new business pitch winning streak that hit baseball Hall of Fame numbers… .900+. The agency was also known for delivering highly effective advertising including “Where’s the beef?” and the advertising that launched Toyota and sustained its growth.

The agency spent a great deal of time and money nurturing its account executives with a weekly training program that pumped out the best AE’s in the industry. DFS taught me how to write brand-building strategies, run a profitable account and how to deliver exceptional account service. It also taught me how to work within an empowering, yet nurturing culture where it seemed like everyone loved their job. This last point was driven home every month when we celebrated employees who had worked at the agency for 10, 20 and even 30 years.

I was about to learn even more.

Saatchi & Saatchi Buys DFS

DFS was purchased by Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising Worldwide in 1986. Here’s the ‘official’ take from Wikipedia:

On February 24, 1986 Saatchi & Saatchi agreed to acquire Dancer Fitzgerald Sample for $75M and immediately announced that it would be merged with the Saatchi owned UK network Dorland Advertising. At that time Dancer Fitzgerald Sample was the thirteenth largest advertising agency in the US with billings of $876M and clients including Procter & Gamble, General Mills, Toyota, Sara Lee and RJR Nabisco. The new DFS Dorland Worldwide network was to be operated independently from the Saatchi and Saatchi Compton Worldwide network and was at that time the sixteenth largest agency network in the world.

Within a year however – by June 1987, DFS was merged with Saatchi & Saatchi Compton, the US subsidiary of Saatchi & Saatchi. At that point the merged business became the largest agency in New York with billings of $2.3B.

At the time of the purchase, I was the General Manger of our small Minneapolis office. I was excited by the purchase and thought that being a part of one of the world’s leading (and most famous) agencies would deliver one of my dreams — to work internationally. In fact, that happened in 1992 when I moved to Saatchi London to run new business and the Johnson & Johnson account across 10 offices.

What I Learned At Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising

download manhattanI learned two very important things.

1. Damn the barriers.

The Saatchi culture was ballsy. We believed that we produced the best strategies and the most powerful advertising in the world. We believed that there were no barriers to helping our clients achieve market dominance. In fact, we saw no boundaries to our own industry dominance and we became the world’s largest agency. This thinking was delivered in  in the agency’s statement…. “Nothing Is Impossible”. This idea lives on after Maurice and Charles left the agency in 1995. Today’s ‘new’ Saatchi & Saatchi still uses the line on its website… We have an unshakeable spirit and unbeatable attitude from day one at Saatchi & Saatchi that Nothing is Impossible.”

Me? I used the idea of ‘Nothing Is Impossible’ to help me leave advertising in 1995 to launch two Internet start ups.

2. Brilliant creative builds brands.

Saatchi London was the most creative agency – full-stop. An arguable point for some other agencies, but in the late 80’s and early 90’s it was true. The agency simply attracted the best creatives (and account managers) in the business. Saatchi’s creatives were interested in damning the barriers. like  the brutal sameness of airline advertising. Saatchi’s The World’s Favourite Airline advertising for British Airway’s  delivered  award winning global work as in the Manhattan TV commercial.

Me? I am using brilliant creative in the form of my new book, The Levitan Pitch. Buy This Book. Win More Pitches. to help me market my agency consultation business and, to help you win more pitches. This book combines both of my Saatchi learnings: be ballsy and make sure you think creatively in every thing you do.

Here is why: Ballsy and creative agencies win. Just ask Droga5, 74 and Sunny, Wieden+Kennedy and M&C Saatchi.

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So, buy the book today —-> Here. You win more pitches. I guarantee it.

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One Comment

  1. Preston Bealle
    | Permalink

    Completely accurate from top to bottom.

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