M&C Saatchi puts data strategy at the heart of relaunch

moray mc1M&C Saatchi is banking on a new customer-focused, data-driven strategy as part of its major relaunch following a turbulent 18 months, triggered by an accounting scandal that led to half the board of directors, including co-founder Lord Maurice Saatchi, quitting the business.

The agency says the new strategy and operating structure, revealed in a virtual capital markets event for institutional investors and analysts, is based on the premise of “meaningful change”. M&C insists the approach is designed to enable clients “to navigate, create and lead meaningful change”, although interestingly the document does not make a single mention of the word “advertising”.

It follows the promotion of M&C “lifer” Moray MacLennan to succeed David Kershaw as global chief executive, and former Imperial Tobacco CEO Gareth Davis taking over from Jeremy Sinclair as chair.

The relaunch will see the creation of a new, simpler model, operating through five specialist divisions, covering global and social issues; brand, experience and innovation; connected creativity; performance media and passion marketing.

However, this strategy will be fuelled by five growth drivers, including greater use of data and analytics, technology, digital innovation, sustainability and a growth platform.

As part of these plans the agency is launching a new data consultancy, dubbed Fluency, in February, pooling its existing capabilities to help clients analyse data and use it to deliver their marketing objectives.

The group also set out a number of financial targets to be achieved over the course of 2020 to 2025, with a net revenue growth target of 6%; operating profit growth of 25%, £30m a year of cost savings and a group operating margin of 18% by 2025.

The company is still under investigation by the Financial Conduct Authority over how its accounting regularities were disclosed to the market. M&C Saatchi has admitted to £25.8m of accounting errors and misjudgments, with £14m of direct misstatements of profit before tax.

MacLennan said: “Thanks to the resilience, agility and determination of our people, and the loyalty of our clients, we have emerged from the most difficult period in our history – amidst a global pandemic – with real strengths.

“We have a strong, diverse client base; we continue to win significant new business; our capabilities are broad and deep, across the digital marketing landscape; we have a strong presence in major markets and companies that are recognised as leaders in their field; we have strengthened our governance and controls.

“The marketing landscape is changing in profound ways. M&C Saatchi’s belief in the power of communications and creativity to change the world is as relevant and important as ever, but we also need to evolve. We will be a simpler, better-connected global company, with technology working hand-in-hand with creativity, led by a clear mission: to navigate, create and lead meaningful change. We see great opportunity ahead and I am confident that this renewed focus will enable us to capture it.”

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