AdNews Podcast: 'The Toms' reflect on rise of M&C Saatchi

Lindsay Bennett
By Lindsay Bennett | 31 October 2018

For this month's AdNews podcast the team sat down with the long-time leaders of M&C Saatchi, Tom Dery and Tom McFarlane, to discuss their legacy, the lessons they’ve learnt over the years and the stunts they executed in the early days.

McFarlane and Dery have worked together for longer than most people are married. The pair came together in 1995 when Dery, the “suit” in the Tom/Tom relationship, poached McFarlane from DDB Melbourne to lead the creative team at M&C Saatchi – less than a year after the agency had officially opened in Australia.

At the start, the industry was quick to criticise brazen M&C Saatchi as it started to pitch for and win business with fury. In just a few years M&C Saatchi was boasting Qantas, ANZ, McDonald’s and Tourism New Zealand as clients.

The agency may have had a baptism by fire, but Dery said he constantly questioned in the early days if M&C would survive another day.

“For the first couple of years, every day, every week and every month, you question how the agency is going to get through the next month. But after McFarlane arrived, life changed because I had a partner that I felt really comfortable with and I felt like I could do anything,” Dery said.

McFarlane admitted their approach "ruffled some feather" in the early days due to its unpredictable nature.

Dery said this sense of unpredictability is now missing in the industry and it’s one of his bugbears, that agencies have become too ‘cookie-cutter’ style in their approach.

Listen to the full podcast here or on iTunes - The Toms speak from the 20 minute mark:

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