Jaimes Leggett: CEO of M&C Saatchi Australia

My NativeAdVice:


Jaimes joined M&C Saatchi Australia in early 2013 from a highly lauded role as Managing Director Ogilvy & Mather UK.  He has wasted no time reconfiguring M&C Saatchi to bring innovation into the core of the business. Little more than a year into his tenure the agency has won a string of new clients and produced ground-breaking work.A New Zealander, Jaimes was born in Botswana, schooled in South Africa and, after 11 years in the UK, is married to an Englishwoman, but couldn't be happier living in Sydney.

He is a zealot for contagious ideas and big brand platforms.

With all the changes going on in the industry, he believes there has never been a more exciting time to do what we do.

How did you get into the advertising industry?

I love art but I can’t paint.
I love music but I’m tone deaf.
I always wanted to create stuff but I didn’t know how.
Advertising provides a platform to be part of the creative process I love and still enable me to add value in applying strategy and logic.

Which campaigns that you have executed are you most proud of and why?

It’s an impossible question to answer because you can’t compare campaigns like for like. Every campaign has a unique goal, outcome and set of circumstances.
The most recent I’ve worked on, M&C Saatchi’s Clever Buoy (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wv5b4jwABiw and http://mcsaatchi.com.au/blog/2014/05/we-come-together-with-optus-google-to-create-breakthrough-shark-detection-technology) for our telco client Optus is work that I am fiercely proud of. We took a very non-traditional response to a traditional client brief. Tasked with articulating the power of the Optus mobile network we decided to solve a real-world problem and created proven, world-first, breakthrough shark detection technology. It’s pretty good.
Other work I’ve been lucky enough to be close to includes Dove ‘Real Beauty’, Stella Artois ‘Reassuringly Expensive’ and Coca Cola ‘Open Happiness’.

How does your firm stay successful in this digital era?

By investing in people and processes that go far beyond advertising to solve our clients’ business problems.

And partnering with the best in the business. We’re fortunate to have Google as both a client and partner, not to mention our collaboration with Hyper Island, Facebook and Adobe.

Despite the enormous changes in our industry, one thing remains critical - big ideas and big brand platforms from which to execute them.

What is your opinion on publicly traded advertising companies versus privately owned?

In the old days there may have been a correlation between:

public companies | the scale and ability to do big work, versus
private companies | agile and adaptable to change.
In that context public companies were like super tankers

However, in today’s brave new world I see big companies as less super tanker more flotilla of speed boats: dynamic, maneuverable and adaptable to change.

Define creativity.

It’s probably whatever you want it to be. For us at M&C Saatchi I would argue it’s  the conception and execution of ideas that solve business problems.

What are the biggest industry trends and how do you capitalize on them?

Historically, advertising has been the lens we’ve used to crack our clients’ business problems.
Now, of course, we use a far broader canvas. This is less a trend, more a seismic shift.
We are now as likely to be engaged in new product and utility development, product design, blue-sky innovation, consulting and content creation as we are making ads.
To capitalize on this new reality agencies must have a broad set of capabilities and a structure that enables them to work collectively in a seamless, agile way.
An issue arising out of this seismic shift is how to remunerate agencies likes ours that have a far broader remit than they did even a few short years ago.
Remuneration models remain largely stuck on pay structures that have been around since the 1960s, based on supplying time and materials.

There is an urgent need to find a new way to value an agency’s contribution because the value of a creative idea can far exceed the time and materials used to create it. Big, contagious ideas can produce major business outcomes for clients. But today’s remuneration models marginalize ideas, and are often too inflexible to value the myriad ways an agency can benefit a client’s bottom line.
In truth, even some clients shake their heads at this.
As a result, many agencies are working with clients to rethink contracts for the benefit of both parties. In an age when every action is measurable, performance-based pay is well established.
Some are looking into joint ventures, reflecting new levels of collaboration. If agency contracts provide an even greater incentive for business-building ideas, it’s only natural for more of them to emerge.
At the heart of it all is intellectual property. I think there will be a renewed focus on IP and how remuneration models value it.

Who is your greatest influence in becoming a successful CEO?

Broadly speaking there are two types of people in the world; those that bring life and energy and those that suck it all away.
I prefer to spend time with the former.
And in each of these interactions I bring curiosity and enthusiasm and try to learn as much as I can from the brilliant people around me.

What is your life motto?

Roll the way you roll.

What literature is currently on your desk or Internet browser?

A pile of magazines with Monocle, Harvard Business Review and Fast Company on top, while Twitter is open on my more figurative desktop.

What's next for your firm?

We will continue to change the game and evolve our business to best meet our clients’ expanding needs and reflect our broadening remit. We are already transitioning from suppliers to partners and IP owners.