M&C Saatchi's new CEO: 'I believe in getting s*** done'

Chris Pash
By Chris Pash | 21 May 2024
Zaid Al-Qassab.

Zaid Al-Qassab, the new CEO of M&C Saatchi, started his first day in the office with advice to staff: “Make things simple and you will cut through.”

The almost 1,000 word message noted that life was too complicated, for the global advertising group, for clients and for customers. 

“This is why I love the M&C Saatchi founding philosophy of Brutal Simplicity of Thought,” he said.

“I believe in getting s*** done. We could talk about things all day, but the magic happens when we do stuff.”

He replaces co-founder Moray MacLennan who stepped down in September and takes over from Zillah Byng-Thorne, executive chair at M&C Saatchi, who has been running the group.

Al-Qassab, a former CMO of UK's Channel 4, takes over a business with revenue under pressure.

M&C Saatchi posted a fall in profit for the year to December, down 31% fall to £7.3 million in statutory operating profit. Before tax profit was down 87% to £0.7 million. Net revenue for 2023 was down 7%, and 2% like-for-like, to £252.8 million.

In a trading update last week, the company said like-for-like net revenue growth is running in the “low single digits” so far in 2024 as restructuring and cost cutting takes hold.

The global advertising group, like most of its peers, had been dragged down by a contraction in ad spend by the technology sector. 

This led to a weaker revenue in 2023, sparking a restructure to create a leaner, more agile business, described as “simplification”.

Al-Qassab told staff the new M&C Saatchi strategy outlines being the leading creative solutions partner to a global client base. 

“Our offer builds on M&C Saatchi's creative heritage, driven by our boldness and our willingness to always think - and be - different,” he said.  

“We want to make it easier for our clients to grow by accessing the full breadth of our skills and capabilities so they can maximise the reach and potential of their brands. 

“We've got all the ingredients of a truly successful, world-leading creative solutions company – a powerful brand, leading specialist capabilities and highly talented people – and we need to ensure clients know what we are capable of and think of us when they need a partner that can help solve their business and organisational challenges.” 

Al-Qassab said he had strong beliefs about what matters.

“I believe in people,” he said. “I've always found people to be intelligent, hard-working, trustworthy and caring. So, I have always treated people that way, and found they can do miraculous things. 

“I believe in creativity. By creativity I mean all forms of innovative, different, ingenious thinking and executional craft. It's what drives our industry and grows our clients' businesses and organisations.

“Ideas are a particularly potent weapons of change, from consumer behaviour to social progress. 

“I believe in teamwork. Sure, we all have areas of expertise, but we are so much more together than we are individually. It's also more fun to work that way, and work should be fun, we spend too much time on it to allow otherwise.”

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