Saatchi’s ring in the new decade with a few more resignations

Another decade, another round of departures scheduled for the embattled Saatchi & Saatchi.

Saatchi & Saatchi New Zealand creative director Luke Chess has decided to up sticks and will take over as creative director at Lavender, Sydney, in February.

Lavender is Australia’s biggest indy agency and counts The Australian Financial Review, Fujitsu, Microsoft, BT Financial Group, American Express and the News South Wales Department of Commerce as clients.

Chess joined Saatchi’s in January 2008 and was previously creative director at Belgiovane Williams Mackay Sydney. Before that, he spent seven years at Saatchi & Saatchi Sydney.

Chess is currently on leave and was unable to be contacted.

Mark Lorrigan, creative director at Team Saatchi, which focuses on the agency’s retail offering, has also resigned, following in the footsteps of his former creative partner Jordan Sky, who resigned before Christmas.

Lorrigan, who departs on 18 February, has worked at Saatchi’s for four years and prior to that was with DDB for seven years, so, after 11 years with big, brand-led agencies, he says it’s the perfect time to get stuck in to a few things that have gone by the wayside while he was holding down a full-time job, like focusing on a few short term contracts and heading down to the playground with his kids.

Retail, he says, is very strong at the moment (“you just have to look at the Sunday papers to see how big it is,” he says). And because “no-one’s looking at buying anything at the moment unless it’s a deal”, he thinks there is plenty of room for growth and quite a few jobs on offer.

He puts the slew of resignations at Saatchi’s – which included those of ECD Mike O’Sullivan and CEO Andrew Stone before Christmas – down to coincidence rather than low morale. Rumours of more resignations are circling, but he is unsure whether the defections are likely to keep coming.

“People generally keep that kind of thing pretty close to their chests. No-one knew about my resignation until yesterday . . .  But it’s always the thing at Saatchi’s. There are a lot of great people there and they tend to get poached.”

Saatchi’s declined to comment on the recent resignations or on the continuing search for Mike O’Sullivan’s replacement, although it appears some potential candidates were interviewed in America recently and the replacement is unlikely to be local. But whatever eventuates in first months of 2010, Saatchi’s incoming chief executive Nicola Bell can look forward to a baptism of fire when she takes over in late February.

On the other side of the staffing coin, DDB, fresh from a sterling performance in the BestAds agency of the year/decade awards, is adding to its creative arsenal and has picked up Rory McKechnie from DraftFCB, where he has spent the last three years.

McKechnie has worked on the Noel Leeming, Bond and Bond, Prime TV, Pak ‘n Save, Pacific Blue, Whitcoulls and BMW accounts and he won the Emerging Talent award at the Axis Awards 2009. His work has also been awarded at the Effies, Cannes, The One Show, The Work, Award, NAB and ORCA.

DDB Group executive creative director Toby Talbot says: “Rory first caught my eye last year. Or should I say ear. His radio spot, ‘Beckstravaganza’, for Prime TV was easily my favourite radio spot of the year. He started in retail. He worked bloody hard to make the switch to brand at DraftFCB. That says a lot about him. He’s tenacious. He can write. And he’s a nice bloke to boot. I can’t wait to see what he and Damian Galvin get up to as a team at DDB.”

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