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Year in Review: Mark Cochrane of Saatchi & Saatchi

Each year, StopPress asks players in the local industry for their reflections on the year that was. Brought to you by NZME, we’re shaking things up a bit by chatting to some of the biggest change makers of 2021. Those individuals who’ve made brave moves, impactful work and ultimately disrupted the market – because what was 2021 without a little disruption!


After what’s been tough few years for the agency, Mark Cochrane has just completed his first year in the role of CEO at Saatchi & Saatchi, and has helped create a few decent wins. In addition to a raft of new hires throughout last year’s lockdown, global campaigns for both Tourism Fiji and FIFA, and new business wins with Z, the agency has also most recently won the Grand Effie for their work with Toyota and the “Hilux Unbreakable Bond” campaign.

2021 was…

A tough year for humanity, but a great year for Saatchi & Saatchi.

I’d therefore like to acknowledge the imagination, tenacity, and resilience of our people, as well as our clients. We are thankful. Chorus, Heineken, KiwiPlates, Global Women, NZOC, Nestle, Sport NZ, My Food Bag, Lexus, and Tourism Fiji, all reached various commercial, strategic and creative achievements. I’d especially like to congratulate Toyota for winning Axis Advertiser of the Year, the Grand Axis, a TVNZ-NZ Marketing Award and the coveted Grand Effie.

Together as a community, I am proud to say Saatchi was one of, if the most awarded New Zealand creative companies at Axis, One Show, Effie’s, and D&AD; at least the way we counted it.

A personal achievement I was most proud of in 2021…

Last year we were privileged to welcome some great new organisations and brands to the Saatchi NZ community including Z Energy, Tourism New Zealand, DB Export, Tiger, Pepperstone Global and the FIFA Women’s World Cup ANZ (being led from Aotearoa). I am now excited to see what we can achieve together.

Of course, that’s not a personal achievement. That’s the team being Saatchi.

Sum up your first year at Saatchi & Saatchi?

I was pleased with the agency’s progress. We came together, and we achieved the first phase of our ‘Specialise, Weaponize & Connect’ transformation.

We specialised around our focus on ‘Cultural Creativity’. We weaponised through the launch of the Cultural Studio, and we accelerated our connect strategy to provide many clients with wider capability, technology solutions and digital transformation services from the Publicis Groupe Connected Platform. Creating connected ecosystems and experiences – at pace. 

Whilst we continue to enhance the Connect strategy through both talent and technology updates, I thank the Publicis Groupe whānau for their connected collaboration to date, as with other industry collaborators we are working with too. As we say at Saatchi – one team, one dream. 

We now enter the year with the right balance of scale, talent, capability, and focus. We are excited by the possibilities ahead, ready for whatever external forces be thrown at our clients, and any opportunity clients wish to seize.

What changed in 2021 in terms of how Saatchi approached business?

I think we just stopped trying to be everything for everyone and decided to be Saatchi.

That’s been at the core of the Specialise, Weaponize and Connect transformation.

What did you make of the significant movement in the industry in 2021?

I don’t really have a view on competing brands and models, I am wholly focused on what we are working to achieve at Saatchi, and across the Publicis Groupe Connected Platform.

That said, I do hope the industry is pushing to be growth focused, allowing culture, creativity, and innovation to flourish, and not get overly distracted by optimisation.

What about “Hilux Unbreakable Bond” made the campaign so successful?

Trust. Toyota trusted their strategy, the creators, and the process. Every step of the way. Whilst I wasn’t part of project at the time, I do revere the bravery of the strategy, the work, and its ambition to add to culture, not extract from it. A great effort by the team.

In 2022 I’m looking forward to…

Sharing the wall of work we are soon to roll out.

I am also excited to see the rise of the private sector in 2022. I believe it’s the year for brands to serve customers in more progressive ways, to lift the mood of the nation up, and to drive country growth and prosperity, despite external forces.  

In short, bull at a gate. Can’t wait.

Quick fire 10

  1. Favourite local campaign: Global Women: Career-Limiting Move
  2. Least favourite campaign: Anything that shouted at you with big graphics. Unless it’s ironic.
  3. Creative I wished I worked on: ITV Drama vs Reality.
  4. News story of the year: New Zealanders not being allowed home.
  5. The most underreported news event/story of the year: Our national debt levels.
  6. Changemaker of 2021: Steve Cochran
  7. Most impactful brand of 2021: Pfizer
  8. A learning from lockdown: You can only worry about what you can control.
  9. Most awkward video meeting moment: My 5-year-old son Archer doing a naked handstand behind me. Then again, nothing should be awkward. That’s life when broadcasting from our homes.

For more Year in Review 2021 brought to you by NZME, click here.

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