CONFLICTING ACCOUNTS by Kevin Goldman

CONFLICTING ACCOUNTS

The Creation and Crash of the Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising Empire
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

 A revelatory briefing on how, in less than 25 years, Charles and Maurice Saatchi managed to build and then nearly destroy the Western world's largest advertising agency. Drawing on a wealth of sources, Wall Street Journal correspondent Goldman recounts how the brothers, born to Jewish parents in Baghdad during the 1940s but brought to England as infants, set up shop in 1970 London with a handful of associates. Charles, the elder by three years, provided the creative drive while urbane Maurice served as the rainmaking front man. The fledgling firm attracted useful attention with imaginative campaigns, e.g., a birth-control promotion for Great Britain's Health Education Council that featured the picture of a pregnant man. A flair for takeovers helped keep the agency growing through the mid-1980s, when Saatchi & Saatchi launched a successful invasion of Madison Avenue and claimed the top spot in the global ad industry. Thereafter, the installment payments due on past acquisitions, a slump in demand for advertising, and ill-advised forays into consulting services caused a severe liquidity squeeze and the stock market's subsequent markdown of Saatchi & Saatchi securities; and institutional investors began focusing on the willful, spendthrift ways of the founders. After a series of unseemly battles fought in the press and boardroom, Maurice was ousted at the start of 1994. Charles followed him out the door and became an equal partner in a start-up agency operating under the M&C Saatchi banner. Despite account defections, legal strife, and staffing problems, their old firm (renamed Cordiant) weathered all storms and remains a force to be reckoned with. A vivid, tellingly detailed reconstruction of the birth and near-death experience of a consequential multinational enterprise, which ranges widely among such variant milieus as art, commerce, fashion, the media, politics, and show-biz. (8 pages b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-684-81571-0
Page count: 400pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 1996