Remain campaign advertising agency M&C Saatchi eyes Scottish independence referendum role

William Turvill
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Nicola Sturgeon Delivers Anti-Austerity Speech At Universtiy College London
The UK government has indicated it will reject calls for a Scottish referendum (Source: Getty)

Nicola Sturgeon’s demand for a Scottish referendum may not have gone down too well with companies hoping for some stability after the EU vote last summer.

But the vote, which the government wants to reject, presents an opportunity for some.

Advertising agency M&C Saatchi, which today reported growing revenues and profits for 2016, will be aiming to win some political campaigning work on the vote.

“We’d be delighted if asked to get involved, which would clearly be on the Union [side],” chief executive David Kershaw told City A.M. “I can’t see the SNP inviting us somehow.”

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During 2016, M&C Saatchi, which is listed in London but has large operations in America and Australia, worked on the unsuccessful sides of the EU referendum and the US presidential election.

The company also worked on campaigns for NatWest and Asda in 2016, as well as working on an anti-extremism campaign for the Home Office.

M&C Saatchi’s share price was up slightly today, one per cent to 355p at the time of writing. The company reported revenue of £225.3m, up 26 per cent on 2015, boosted by the fall in value of sterling. Pre-tax profit, meanwhile, was up 18 per cent to £23.7m. In the UK, operating profit was down 12 per cent due to previously announced restructuring costs.

Numis analysts were impressed, with the figures coming in ahead of expectations. N+1 Singer analysts, meanwhile, described it as “another strong performance with revenues, profits and dividend ahead”. “Only the UK agency reorganisation held back even better profit progress,” they said. Kershaw described 2016 as an “outstanding year” for the firm.

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In recent months, serious concerns have been raised over the digital advertising supply chain, with Procter & Gamble describing is as “murky at best, fraudulent at worst”.

“Digital is in its still frontier days and there are things that will need to be cleaned up and refined,” said Kershaw. “I think that the pressure from clients at the moment to clean up the digital space can only be a good thing.”

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