Dr Mumbo

Maurice Saatchi: The father of ‘Can’

To the Creative Strategy Awards, where guest juror Dave Cobban must have thought he was the funniest person in the world after accidentally straying into CommBank territory.

On a flying visit to the country and unfamiliar with Australia’s major banking brands, the Nike strategist innocently told an anecdote and perhaps struggled to understand why the room was in uproar by the time he had finished.

Recounting his time in London working with M&C Saatchi founder Maurice Saatchi, Cobban raised the question of “complexity versus simplicity”.

He told the audience: “I was drawn to a brilliant experience I had working with Maurice Saatchi at M&C where we were pitching for British Telecom, which is like the Telstra equivalent here. We did all this research. Very similar to Telstra, it’s a horribly hated brand.

“We were delivering this research to Maurice. He said ‘I’m seeing here the word “Can’t” over and over again’. He drew it on the board and he crossed out the T.”

The rest of the anecdote was lost in audience laughter.

As Cobban left the stage, Account Planning Group chairman Sudeep Gohil promised to explain to him later why he wasn’t as funny as he thought he was based on the audience reaction.

Regular followers of adland shenanigans will recall that M&C’s usage of the word Can’t in the BT ads became something of a point of contention when the agency used it here in Australia for CommBank’s repositioning.

cant btcant



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