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Cordiant & Saatchi

This profile deals with the Cordiant Communications Group (which was swallowed by WPP in 2003) and the Saatchis.

It covers -

  • introduction
  • development
  • holdings
  • memoirs and studies
  • chronology


As of 2001 Cordiant Communications Group was considered to be the eighth largest advertising group worldwide, with an estimated gross income of US$1.2 billion and billings of around US$13.4 billion.

The volatility of the industry and malaise in key industry sectors resulted in considerably lower figures two years later, with the group being acquired by rival WPP in July 2003 for a mere US$17 million (plus assumption of debts).


Cordiant traces its origins to the agency founded by Ted Bates (1901-72) in New York in 1940 and the Saatchi & Saatchi agency founded in London in 1970 by Charles Saatchi (1943- ), Maurice Saatchi (1946- ) and Tim Bell.

Saatchi grew into one of the world's largest advertising conglomerates during the 1980s, culminating in a bid for the UK Midland banking group, but came close to collapse after its expansion saddled the firm with huge debts.

A sense of the pace of its acquisitions - often partly/fully financed with paper and tied to 'earn-outs' - is provided in the chronology below.

The Saatchi brothers left in 1995 - subsequently forming M&C Saatchi - and the group was renamed Cordiant, embracing the Saatchi & Saatchi agency, Bates Worldwide and other entities.

The Saatchi agency was later spun off (and acquired by Publicis), with Cordiant going on to buy a range of marketing and internet consultancies at great expense, leading to speculation in 2002 and 2003 that it would be split up or absorbed by a major competitor.

Management tensions and financial losses resulted in a successful takeover bid by WPP (headed by former Saatchi associate Martin Sorrell) in 2003.


Key Cordiant units included -

  • Bates Worldwide (inc George Patterson Bates in Australia)
  • PCI Live
  • Scholz & Friends
  • The Facilities Group (30%) - preproduction
  • Zenith Media (25%)
  • Lighthouse Global Network
  • 141 Worldwide
  • The Decision Shop
  • Diamond (80%) - Korea
  • IBI
  • Healthworld
  • The Campaign Palace
  • Financial Dynamics
  • Gallagher & Kelly
  • C&FD
  • Fitch Worldwide
  • Morgen-Walke
  • PSD
  • Bamber Forsyth
  • CCG:XM

Memoirs and studies

There has been no major study of Cordiant or many of its components.

For the Saatchi brothers and their agencies see Ivan Fallon's The Brothers: The Saatchi & Saatchi Story (Chicago: Contemporary 1989), Kevin Goldman's Conflicting Accounts: The Creation and Crash of the Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising Empire (New York: Simon & Schuster 1997), Philip Kleinman's The Saatchi and Saatchi story (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson 1989) and Alison Fendley's Saatchi & Saatchi: The Inside Story (New York: Arcade 1996).

There is a mordant account of Charles as art patron in Supercollector: A Critique of Charles Saatchi, (London: Ellipsis 2000) by Rita Hatton & John Walker.