Truly the corporate world is different… June 24, 2013Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, Economy, Excess.
…from an illuminating profile of Charles Saatchi in the Sunday Business Post this weekend…
In the true spirit of the 1980s, Saatchi & Saatchi grew at a rapid rate with a voracious appetite for takeovers. By 1986, it was the biggest agency in the world, having taken over 80 other agencies, among them firms based on Madison Avenue in New York.
Tales of excess were legendary. The company was earning so much money that they paid themselves and staff 13 months’ salary.
When one employee announced that she was leaving, she was asked what it would take to make her stay. “A Ferrari,” she said. And she got one.
In one party in London’s Docklands, a full-sized model of Charlotte Street, where the firm was based, was built, and restaurants from the real street were paid to open for one night only.
It reminds me of the stories a friend of mine formerly in an Irish company in another ‘creative’ field told me. At the height of the ‘boom’ the entire staff, running into the hundreds would be taken on office ‘parties’ to say – some European city, or such like, top of the range hotels, all expenses paid for a couple of days and nights.
Sadly all this – ahem – activity came to nothing and by the time the recession hit the company went through three or so drastic downsizes ultimately reducing to the partners and an administrator.
There’s no pleasure in retelling that anecdote. Whatever about the excesses of owners those were workers who lost their jobs and one has the feeling that it didn’t have to be that way, that a fair bit more foresight, a lot less extravagance, and something more might have been salvaged from the wreckage.
Ironically, or not, the Saatchi story is not entirely dissimilar…
However, by the mid-1990s reality hit, and the company was saddled with debt. Some of the companies which had been bought were worth a fraction of what they had been paid for.
What’s most striking is how corporate interests (and of course Thatcher and the Tories were famously clients of Saatchi) are not behind the door in preaching austerity for others while…