Saatchi & Saatchi must modernise says new MD

Saatchi & Saatchi has been too slow to modernise, according to the agency's new Dubai managing director.

Steve Anastasiadis told Campaign that the agency needed to break out of its traditional approach to advertising and start to offer clients more innovative ways of connecting with consumers.

"We need to develop our capabilities and knowledge of mobile and new media technology - understand how people use these mediums in their lives," he said.

Anastasiadis, who comes from Australia, has worked for Saatchis for 15 years in a variety of positions. He spent four years in Paris as regional director for Toyota in Europe, and a decade in Sydney as general manager.

He replaces Saatchis' former MD, Rob Mitchell, who has left the agency to pursue other career interests.

Anastasiadis added: "We've kept our creative standards high throughout, which is testimony to everyone working here. We had more shortlists at Cannes than any other agency in the region - that's a result of hard work.

"But where we haven't done as well is that we have been too driven on the traditional advertising sphere. That's not to demean traditional advertising, but we haven't moved to the future fast enough in terms of delivering holistic solutions for clients."

Anastasiadis, who serves on Saatchi & Saatchi's Europe, Middle East and Africa board, said the Middle East - along with Russia - was one of the network's key growth areas. He said he had been tasked with speeding up the agency's transformation into an "ideas company".

"We believe big ideas are the currency of the future, that's what's going to cut through the clutter," he said.

"Everybody talks about integration, but at the core of it all has to be a foundation idea. It's about focusing and structuring ourselves to deliver those ideas."

He said he would restructure the agency to form teams of employees from all sections of the agency that would work together on accounts.

"Ideas can come from everywhere - they don't just have to come from the creative department. We're going to mix it up a lot more, we'll form ideas teams around clients, campaigns and briefs, and break down the silos that we have."

While increasing the focus on enhanced use of online and mobile phone technology, Anastasiadis revealed that he wanted Saatchis to become more focused on visually-led communications.

"We're going to be much more visually driven. We're going to push our clients in a much more visual direction and identify what their brand looks and feels like because we think that will help them," he said. "I think this region, too, is one looking increasingly for more design driven work as opposed to clever advertising ideas. Visuals can travel across cultural boundaries much more strongly than words."

Saatchis' regional creative director, Ed Jones, welcomed Anastasiadis' commitment to creativity, saying it was vital to maintaining the agency's showing at international awards ceremonies.

"At Cannes, Saatchi & Saatchi Dubai outperformed all of our sister agencies in the EMEA region. Steve's passion for, and commitment to, creativity will be vital to maintaining or even exceeding that position, especially by helping the team produce ideas across an ever-wider spectrum of communications," he said.

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