Saatchi L.A. Gets U.K. Tobacco Work

Creative Team Tapped to Help London With Rothmans’ L&R Brand
LOS ANGELES–Saatchi & Saatchi Los Angeles is extending its reach–across the country, and then across the Atlantic–to develop new work for tobacco company Rothmans International.
After helping its sister office in London win the creative portion of the $75 million account last month, Saatchi Los Angeles has now been invited to help service the business. Its first assignment will be to work on Rothmans’ L&R brand. Media duties remain at Carat in London.
Alan Bishop, Saatchi’s London-based chairman international worldwide, said the invitation underscores the agency’s willingness to use its “best people from around the world” to pitch new business and develop creative ideas.
The Southern California office is one of Saatchi’s leading creative lights, and its $500 million in billings make it the third-largest office in the agency’s $4.5 billion global network. It also handles the agency’s largest global client, Toyota Motor Sales.
West Coast agencies typically refuse on principle to handle, or even pitch, tobacco accounts, and Southern California has traditionally been the home of anti-smoking initiatives. But Scott Gilbert, chief executive of the Los Angeles office, said he is unconcerned about a backlash.
“We are not thinking about this assignment in terms of who does what in this market,” he said. “We’re always happy to help another Saatchi office and to add to the variety of the work.”
Led by art director Walt Harris, an eight-person creative team will work on the L&R account in Los Angeles, reporting to Joe McDonagh, the office’s executive creative director. The team will be in frequent contact with London, and its first work is expected later this year.
The staffers on the project–mostly smokers–were all volunteers, said Gilbert. “This is still a nonsmoking office,” he said. “If they want to smoke, they have to go outside.”
The London office’s victory fills a void created when M&C Saatchi took the Gallaher tobacco account in 1995. The office’s first task will be to handle the Pan-European launch of the Winfield brand. Other Rothmans brands include King Size, Dunhill and Cartier.