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Saatchi Advertises Fact That It Has a New Name

March 17, 1995|From Reuters

LONDON — Troubled British advertising group Saatchi & Saatchi relaunched itself Thursday as Cordiant, saying it was not ashamed of the name that had made it famous over the last 25 years but is now making a fresh start.

"By giving the holding company a new name which is distinct from those of any of its operating subsidiaries, we . . . remove the confusion . . . which is disadvantageous for all the group's businesses," Chief Executive Charlie Scott told shareholders.

There is more to the story, however. The group has lurched from crisis to crisis in the three months since it dumped Maurice Saatchi as chairman. Employees and clients have quit, the share price has disintegrated and the firm's profit outlook is poor.

The company needed a thumbs-up from its long-suffering shareholders as it struggles to pick up the pieces.

Shareholders complied by voting for the new name and a bonus and option scheme. But many were decidedly unhappy and relished having their first proper say since the Saatchi bubble burst.

"I wish you well," one man told Scott, describing himself as a "tortured shareholder" who had seen the value of his investment fall 97%. "That's the only thing we can do."

Many shareholders were dismayed by the name Cordiant, which Scott touted as embracing core values, harmony and "a clear indication of a change in the company's leadership."

After the voting, the meeting room was dimmed, the stage lit up with swirling colored lights and the new logo, with its graceful, thin black letters, appeared overhead to the strains of music. The performance was greeted with embarrassed laughter.

"The name resembles a vacuum cleaner company," one shareholder complained.

Saatchi & Saatchi will live on as the name of one of the group's two main advertising agency networks, which are known for their creativity.

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