Longtime M&C Saatchi Leader Huw Griffith Dies at Age 55

CEO of North America started with the agency in 1995

Black and white portrait of Huw Griffith
Griffith started with M&C Saatchi in 1995. M&C Saatchi

Huw Griffith, CEO of M&C Saatchi North America, has died at age 55.

A statement from M&C Saatchi L.A. read: “It is with a heavy heart that M&C Saatchi LA announces the passing of our CEO and Founder, Huw Griffith. A mentor to many, and a beloved friend and colleague, Huw left our world peacefully surrounded by his wife Kate and two daughters. An innovative and visionary leader, Huw inspired the people, clients and partners who had the privilege of working with him with his kindness and generosity. We’re enduringly grateful for his decades of leadership and commitment, and he will be sorely missed by us all.”

In a Facebook post, Griffith’s wife, Kate Bristow, a partner and chief strategy officer at the agency, wrote that the cause of Griffith’s death was “a rare and aggressive cancer” diagnosed three years ago.

“This is such a loss and shock for this community and advertising in general,” said Susan Franceschini, executive director of ThinkLA. “Huw was incredibly generous, talented and, most of all, one of the kindest people you could ever hope to meet. Huw and Kate were always a powerhouse here, but they built it all with humanity.”

A U.K. native, Griffith started with M&C Saatchi, the agency spun off by Maurice and Charles Saatchi in 1995 after breaking from their eponymous company. In his 24-plus years with the agency, Griffith opened the Singapore and Malaysia offices, eventually making his way to Los Angeles, where he founded that office in 2003. In 2007, Griffith was elevated to CEO of North America, stating at the time, “We’ve had a lot of great success on the West Coast. Now we’re going to try to pull together and be one. Hopefully, it will give us greater clout in pitches.”

An avid runner, music aficionado and, according to Bristow, “a great cook,” Griffith began his advertising career in London as a runner for BBH while in college.

Under Griffith’s leadership, M&C Saatchi grew to become the largest independent agency group in the world, with offices in 27 countries. The North American operation is considered one of its crown jewels. The L.A. group of M&C Saatchi, for example, includes successful sports and entertainment, performance, market research, startup, social, and PR practices.

The agency has produced standout work for the likes of UGG Australia, Ketel One, Google, BMW, Disney, 20th Century Fox, Reebok, Hong Kong Tourism, British Airways and more.

With zeal, skill and expertise, Griffith’s entrepreneurial spirit was evident as he helped found Gloveworx, a specialized boxing studio with two studios in L.A. and one in New York. Additionally, he was an advisor to Fabric, a blockchain startup.

Griffith was firmly committed to diversity, inclusion and equality, and was a founding partner of Majority, a production company launched in 2017 with an all-women roster of directors.

In her Facebook post, Bristow noted that “being the private man he was, [Griffith] had not wanted to tell many people. He was my best friend, my partner, my wind beneath my wings, my rock, my better half.”

Bristow also added, “I am broken today, but we will be strong. Hug your people tight tonight.”

Griffith is survived by Bristow and their two daughters.

@zanger doug.zanger@adweek.com Doug Zanger is a senior editor, agencies at Adweek, focusing on creativity and agencies.