Maurice Saatchi’s name is synonymous with the fields of advertising and politics, and is the brother and business partner of Charles Saatchi, the infamous modern art collector. He is most famed for his work with the Conservative Party in the United Kingdom, having produced advertising campaigns for them, and more recently becoming the Party Chairman.
He was born on June 21, 1946 in Baghdad, Iraq, but fled with his family to the United Kingdom a year later. Possessing a phenomenal intellect and sharpness of mind, Maurice thrived in his schooling. He attended the London School of Economics and Political Science where he attained 1st Class Honours in Economics in 1967, a time when it was far harder to gain the highest class at University. He also won the MacMillan Prize for Sociology in the same year. Soon after his graduation, Michael Heseltine, the future Conservative Minister, hired him at his Haymarket publishing business, but not without Saatchi first raising eyebrows with his self-confidence. Saatchi demanded that he be paid double the normal salary of a graduate starter at the company. Heseltine conceded to his demands, perceiving his talent and ability.
Three years later, in 1970, Saatchi and his brother, Charles, founded an advertising agency together, Saatchi & Saatchi. The agency was extremely successful and garnered several high profile and lucrative contracts. One memorable advert from this time was of a pregnant man, used in order to promote contraception. Another of its most famed adverts was for the Conservative Party in 1978/1979, which was a billboard poster of a long line of unemployed people queuing with the caption ‘Labour isn’t working’. Labour were in Government at the time, and this marketing campaign has been attributed with having a significant effect on the election which saw them ousted in favour of Margaret Thatcher, someone Maurice shared several political ideals with. The agency went from strength to strength and reached the height of its power in the mid-1980s when it bought out three major US advertising agencies and in the process became the world’s largest advertising agency.
In 1987 however, Maurice advocated a bid for the Midland Bank (now known as HSBC). This potential bid was not without opposition on the Saatchi & Saatchi board and the bid was eventually aborted. Nevertheless, the whole incident damaged confidence in the agency, especially in the all-important financial sectors. By the mid-1990s, both Saatchi brothers had left the agency, allegedly thrown off the board. In response, the two set up a new agency, M&C Saatchi and soon started rivalling their old agency, especially when they successfully wrestled the prestigious British Airways account from it.
Maurice’s collaboration with the Conservative Party has become ever stronger since then. For the 1997 election, he helped come up with the ‘Demon Eyes’ poster that was incredibly controversial at the time, as it portrayed Tony Blair’s face, but with the Devil’s eyes. The Conservatives were soundly beaten in that election, but that poster remains extremely memorable, verging on iconic. A year prior to the election, Maurice had been made a Conservative Peer, gaining the title Baron Saatchi of Staplefield in the County of West Sussex. In 1999 he was made Shadow Minister for the Treasury in the House of Lords and later, for the Cabinet Office in 2001. Having already made his fortune and reputation, his focus appears to have changed to a more direct involvement in politics. In 2003 he was made co-chairman of the Conservative Party along with Liam Fox. There was some opposition to his appointment given his close ties to the now unfashionable Thatcher years and image as someone stuck in the past and obsessed with taxation.
On a personal level, it is said that he is very charming, and has the unusual ability for someone in politics to avoid alienating people of opposing political ideologies to himself. He is also married to Josephine Hart, a novelist, and has had two sons with her. However, like his brother, he is something of an enigma, at least in his relationship to the public at large, preferring perhaps to operate behind the scenes, and yet pulling most of the strings. He has also written several books in recent years (and clearly has a penchant for ironic titles with clichés reversed):
-The War of Independence (1999)
-Happiness can’t buy Money (1999)
-The Bad Samaritan (2000)
-Poor People! Stop Paying Tax! (2001)
-The Science of Politics (2001)