Saatchi & Saatchi Australia's Steve Back to join Ogilvy Singapore as chief creative officer

SteveBack.pngCampaign Brief Asia reports that in one of the biggest appointments of the year Saatchi & Saatchi Sydney ECD Steve Back has been lured to Asia in the role of Chief Creative Officer of Ogilvy Singapore. 

Back is one of Australia's most respected and awarded ECDs and was appointed as executive creative director of Saatchi & Saatchi Sydney in November 2007, replacing David Nobay when he departed to start up Droga5.

Originally a star at Marketforce in Perth, Back first worked at George Patterson Sydney followed by a highly awarded stint at Leo Burnett Sydney. Back played a major role in Leo's winning Campaign Brief's Australian Agency of the Year in 2000. Back then spent several years in London before being enticed to New Zealand to join Colenso BBDO. Mike O'Sullivan then hired Back as Head of Art when he was appointed ECD of Saatchi & Saatchi NZ. The agency went on the win CB New Zealand Agency of the year in 2006 and 2007. 
He then joined DDB Sydney as creative director where he dramatically re energized the agency, moving them to equal number one Australian agency in The Work 07 with Saatchi & Saatchi Australia. Under Back, DDB Sydney was the only Australian agency to get gongs at all four of the top international award shows (D&AD, The One Show, Clio and Cannes) in 2007.

Back is the latest high profile loss for Saatchi & Saatchi Australia and New Zealand, which has also lost several of its biggest clients. This includes David Jones, Lion Nathan and part of its Toyota account in Australia. 

The departures started last December with Saatchi & Saatchi NZ ECD Mike O'Sullivan and CEO Andrew 'Rocky' Stone leaving to start Droga5 in New Zealand. Dylan Harrison lasted just seven months as ECD of Saatchi's New Zealand, resigning in September to rejoin the DDB network as executive creative director of DDB Sydney. Prior to joining Saatchi's he'd spent a decade at DDB London. 

In May, Dave Bowman left Saatchi & Saatchi Australia, joining his former partner Matty Burton at Whybin\TBWA Sydney as joint executive creative director, replacing Garry Horner. Bowman joined Saatchi & Saatchi Australia as group creative head in January 2008 and was promoted to creative director in July 2008, reporting to Back. 

And in October, after many years at Saatchi & Saatchi Sydney, top creative Vince Lagana left  to join Goodby, Silverstein & Partners in San Francisco, commencing work in mid November. Lagana leaves the agency as one of its most awarded creatives, recognised by D&AD, Cannes, New York Festivals, London Festivals, Clio, The One Show, The Spikes and AWARD. This year Lagana - together with writer, Steve Jackson - walked away with five Gold lions at Cannes and another three gold at the Spikes for their Toyota Country Australia Border Security campaign, the agency's most awarded campaign ever. 




65 Comments

Anonymous said:

Good time to get out. So who's going to move in and clean up the mess??

Anonymous said:

I LOVE BACKY!! I FUCKIN LOVE YOU!!! GOOOD LUCK AMIGO!

Jess

Anonymous said:

@11:42 Are you referring to the mess as in the best year the agency has ever had? Cuz that ain't miss kiddo. There's a job position available if you're keen (which i'm sure you are), but you might have 'physically' apply first.

Anonymous said:

Best year they've ever had? I'd hate to see the worst.

Anonymous said:

He looks thrilled.

Anonymous said:

The best year? Lion Nathan,David Jones and huge slice of Toyata , gone. Who are you fucking kidding?

Anonymous said:

I take it none of you have seen the different award shows this year then. I have a feeling that you'd all give your left nut - actually the whole set - to have had the amount of awarded work done this year as Saatchi have had. Sometimes clients going has nothing to do with the people doing the creative work, sometimes it might just be for other reasons. But then I guess you're all so amazing and just as highly awarded and talented that you can rip Backy and Saatchi to pieces, coz you're all so fucking wonderful and they are OBVIOUSLY so shit and amateur.
Get back to work you bunch of lazy arse squids, either that or walk on down the Rocks and tell him to his face just how shit he is, that I'd pay good money to see!

Anonymous said:

Give Ez and Mossy the job.

Anonymous said:

Is that an illustration?

Anonymous said:

Hope he sharpens up his look before he hits Singapore - I'd cast in the next Underbelly.

Anonymous said:

Rudi should step in. he's a fucken champion, even though he is Dutch.

Viva Vranken!

Anonymous said:

1.07,
All the awards in the world won't pay the bills. Clients do. Lose clients, lose money, lose talent. Pretty simple equation.
I'm not disputing the amount of top work still coming out of 70 George, but almost all the senior talent has left the building.
I honestly think Backy leaving is a blessing in disguise, time to take stock and rebuild what was, is and will always be an amazing brand.

ps. Skip Waterhouse should get the gig.

Anonymous said:

Lovely outburst, but I'd say 85% of the time a client leaves it's a relationship problem, not a creative one.

Anonymous said:


Shut your necks! That one's for you Backy. X

Andrew said:

No replacement me thinks. I smell a merger

Anonymous said:

Farewell Backy, you've done well mate.

And congrats to his replacement, Wassim Kanaan.

Expect big things from S&S with Wazza at the helm.

Anonymous said:

Back to front Ogilvy Singapore. Bet he's never heard that before.

God said:

You guys LOVE ads. You LOVE them soooo much. Sooooo much.

Anonymous said:

I quite like Backy, but obviously not as much as 1.07 who is clearly IN LOVE with the big guy. It's kind of sweet in a very GAY WAY. Lighten up dude. You're embarrassing yourself.

Anonymous said:

1.07pm are you 12 years old?

Anonymous said:

1.07

Newsflash douchebag : winning awards won't keep your doors open when all your clients are walking out the door.

WAYNE BENNETT said:

Calm the fuck down, people.

I know it's the industry's worst kept secret so I'll come right out and say that I've decided to accept the ECD position at Saatchis.

After my stellar year with the Dragons (Minor Premiers and Grand Final Winners), I've now decided to jump ship.

I'll be bringing in Jamie Soward and Matt Cooper as my new senior team.

Peace.

Anonymous said:

Sometimes I enjoy reading the articles, others I enjoy reading the bitching in the comments section. On this occasion it's the later.

Anonymous said:

Skip for ECD. I love him.

Anonymous said:

Singapore's a cool town. You'll have a ball and no doubt be responsible for plenty of brilliant work. All the best, Chewie.

Anonymous said:

Despite 3 big names leaving recently S&S Sydney still poses some frickin good talent. Dont be quick to kick them when they are down cause history tells us that these fuckers thrive off that stuff.
I'm sure the wheels are in motion.

Anonymous said:

3.18, Dat choo Stevie?

Anonymous said:

Congrats Backy :) you'll do well like you always have

Anonymous said:

Maurice and Charles left in 1995 and the brand and its agencies live on and often thrive right around the world. I wouldn't be too worried.

Anonymous said:

Congrats Backy. Well cunting done.

Anonymous said:

Back is a really top bloke, really really.

Anonymous said:

I wonder if this is what Ian Rowden meant when he said Saatchi is "retooling" and is poised to benefit from the influence of Asia...

http://www.campaignbrief.com/2010/10/saatchi-saatchi-looks-to-asia.html

Anonymous said:

Give the job to Jacko!

Anonymous said:

2.15
Is that why M&C settled for the DJ's account for half of what they were paying S&S...i bet you work there on half of what the same dude doing your job at Saatchi's was on... enjoy stocking the shelves at Coles tonight pal!

Maurice and Charles said:

Oh dear

Anonymous said:

Shame for Saatchi, Backy and the team have had a stellar year for work.
Saatchi's is falling apart worldwide since Bob Isherwood left - it seems every good creative worldwide has bailed, or is wanting to bail. A brilliant creative network, let go to the dogs. There is no creative leader world wide, and it is showing big time.
Good luck to those few good ones who are left.
Ogilvy Singapore you've made a good choice.
Saatchi ...... another one bites the dust.

Anonymous said:

It's interesting to see that people recommending people for cd gigs via this blog.

Skip is a genuine bloke and a genuinely great creative guy. He's definitely right for the job and obviously understands the Saatchi culture.

After my glowing reference, I am half tempted to hint at my identity in the hope that he would remember me during hiring time.

But alas, my money is on some poor fucker from another country who doesn't understand this very challenging market.

Let's hope they don't drag his/ her family over before reconsidering their decision ; )

MARK GASNIER said:

Will miss those times we spent together, Backy.

stevesback.com

Anonymous said:

It's really interesting. After looking at this article on the other CB sites, it's easy to see where all the jealous 'wish they were's but never will bes' are from - Go Australia, you lead the way for venomous shite by far!!

Anonymous said:

From Publicis to WPP, a step in the retail direction.

Benno said:

Back at uni in the day the anonomous forums / blogs were fun, but nowhere near as fun nor informative as the ones in which names were compulsory. Issues were raised and arguments fought without the child-like crap reflected in anonymity.

Maybe CB you could test the waters - in the very least it will improve the discussion and reduce the venom so common to this blog - seemingly unique to adland. What do you think?

Don Furner said:

I heard it's Joel Monahan for the job.

Anonymous said:

Saatchi Sydney - rudderless

Saatchi Auckland - rudderless

If I were a regional head for Saatchi, I would be telling my wife to go slow on the spending.

Anonymous said:

Does that mean the exit door for the ECD, Robert Gaxiola? He's done nothing for the agency's creative profile since he returned to Singapore. It's time Ogilvy got some good creative people who produce good work.

Anonymous said:

The best thing Saatchi & Saatchi could do is try and lure Tim & Pete back.

Anonymous said:

Get the late nineties band back together.

Anonymous said:

Publicis Mojo + Saatchi merger anyone? Saatchi to keep their name, obviously.

Anonymous said:

Chesticle to the rescue...?

Anonymous said:

The best thing they could do would be to take this opportunity to change. There's a big difference between talking about some awards and actually being an environment where creativity thrives. Embrace the change, and change.

Sutho said:

Hey Steve,
Good luck and I'm sure you'll kick arse in Singaplonk. Give Danny a ring at BBDO, take him to the 4 floors and get him wasted. And if you ever visit the best place in Asia (Phnom Penh)call me and I'll buy you a beer or three to celebrate the old days.
Cheers

Anonymous said:

Vinnie and Steve J have been dominating there for ages. How many bloody awards have those bastards won?!! It's a shame Vince has moved on, but Jacko's still there fighting the good fight. I know who'd get my vote.

Anonymous said:

My first thought was to put Chesticles into there.

Could do good stuff for both sdes of the Tasman.

Anonymous said:

Did Mr Bowman jump too early?

Stephen said:

What happened to the head of planning there?

Anonymous said:

If I was bowman i'd be happy. The guy's no fool. TBWA winning accounts. Saatchis losing accounts. And I don't care what anyone says but it's the creative relationships here that have broken down. Backy is a creative legend no doubt but clearly hasn't built enough strong bridges. The agency was in better shape when all the group heads had control of the work. That's what Nobby set up and they were winning way more awards and keeping clients way happier.
Bulldozers dont work nowadays. Times have changed. Two ears, one mouth. Use them proportionately.

Anonymous said:

GO BACCKKYY!!! ♥

The Excavator said:

10.38 is that a Hitachi,Komatsu, Kobelco or my favourite a Catapillar Bulldozer?

Anonymous said:

Oooh Sutho, you're so in with Backy and Searly.

Anonymous said:

Steve J all the way baybee. He's gold.

Anonymous said:

06/11 @ 11.31 am suggests a merger between S & S and Mojo. That would give S & S Craig Davis and finish the job.

Anonymous said:

Sooner or later Saatchi's obsession with awards was going to catch up with them. For far too long they've been much better at making themselves famous than their clients.Saatchis became a great global agency by getting the balance right between work than won awards and work that made you money. Yes, sometimes they can be the same thing, but often they're not. M&C are successful because they understand how to do both, as does DDB, BMF, Clems etc. It's not as if the secret to making money [the money that allows an agency to fund the 'creative' stuff] a secret. I often wondered whether Saatchi's obsession with awards was driven by a deliberate agency strategy to make Bob Isherwood look good at Cannes. Others might think otherwise. Anyway,Saatchis can be a great agency again, but it will require a focus on their client's success, not their own, to achieve it.

Jay Furby said:

I can do it!

Anonymous said:

S&S has a global strategy when it comes to awards. They'll pick the offices that offer the most promise, and support/expect them to win as many as they can. For a long time, S&S Sydney was one of those offices.

So yeah, you can knock S&S Sydney for putting awards ahead of money. But you have to remember they're a part of a global network with a global outlook, and were playing quite a specific part in that.

I would imagine the vast bulk of their employees over the years would have far preferred they erred on the side of chasing awards over dollars. And so what if they've just lost clients as a result? I'm sure anyone who unfortunately was retrenched won't find it hard to get another gig, given that they've worked at an excellent creative agency. S&S Sydney on your resume looks pretty good.

Anonymous said:

Congrats to Wassim Kanaan!
There is no better choice of captain for steering the S&S ship.

Anonymous said:

Steve Back is the best!

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