Failure of Saatchis takeover bid preserved our culture, The Monkeys partner tells panel

One of The Monkeys’ partners has spoken of his relief that Saatchi & Saatchi botched its bid to buy the creative agency in 2011.

Speaking on a panel at Mumbrella360, The Monkeys group strategy director and partner Fabio Buresti told how the failed attempt by Saatchis unified the agency leadership and put them into a position to later be acquired by Accenture, which was a better cultural fit.

The 2011 project fell apart after a document was left visible in the Saatchi & Saatchi office and the information leaked before the deal was done. The plan had been for The Monkeys management team to take on the Saatchi brand, which was struggling in Australia at the time.

Campaign Brief was the outlet which originally ran the story, before it was quickly picked up by the Sydney Morning Herald, stating that Saatchi & Saatchi were ‘close to buying’ Three Drunk Monkeys.

Buresti told the Mumbrella panel: “It was all real at the time, and it was pretty terrifying. I’m so fucking thankful that didn’t happen because it taught us a really good lesson about being aligned in what we want to do and where we want to go. And setting the business up for long term success,” said Buresti.

Saatchi & Saatchi is owned by holding company Publicis Group. Holding company business models generally include a focus on expecting every agency to deliver a specific profit margin.

“I think once that happened it brought us a lot closer together and we agreed on who we don’t want to sell to and it definitely wasn’t a holding company and what that represents,” said Buresti. co-founder Chris Wirasinha who was also speaking on the panel jokingly asked Buresti why holding companies are considered ‘evil’.

“They’ve just got a bad reputation. When you talk to a holding company or a manger from there they care about the numbers, they care about the money, they think about shifting accounts around and saving dollars here and there, whereas Accenture, all they wanted to know about was our culture and they didn’t even talk about the financial side of it. To this day everything we do is about building a strong culture and they’ve been an amazing partner,” said Buresti.

Accenture bought The Monkeys, which changed its name from Three Drunk Monkeys in 2011, in 2017. The global professional services company also recently purchased Droga5. Buresti said that the recent acquisition shows that Accenture was the right business to buy The Monkeys, because the two companies share the same ambitions, culture and vision.

“Culturally if we’d walked into the agency and said we’d just sold to WPP or whoever it might be, I can tell you now, it would have been a nightmare trying to keep people, whereas this has gone the other way. I’ve been able to hire people that would never have happened before being an independent, because they see us as a completely different grown up proposition in market,” said Buresti.


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