Last Updated May 12, 2010 12:08 PM EDT
The fact that Saatchi & Saatchi backed the losing candidate is, in some ways, not a surprise: Although Saatchi has a splendid record advertising traditional consumer goods such as Procter & Gamble (PG)'s Tide laundry detergent or Toyota (TM) cars, whenever the agency's leaders step into nontraditional areas such as politics or sport, disaster follows. Among those debacles:
- When the late Saatchi CEO Robert Louis-Dreyfus arrived as owner at Olympique de Marseille in 1993, the club was an eight-time winner of France's Ligue 1. Marseille hasn't won a trophy since. (Dreyfus died in 2009.)
- In New Zealand in the late 1990s, Saatchi CEO Kevin Roberts' involvement with former prime minister Jenny Shipley led to calls for Shipley's resignation. The right-wing National Party leader had dinner with Roberts right after Saatchi won the country's $16 million tourism ad account.
- Roberts was a board member of New Zealand's All Blacks rugby team between 1997 and 2000. The team last won a rugby World Cup in 1987, despite being perennial favorites.
- In 2005, Roberts persuaded the U.S. Department of Defence to "rebrand" the War on Terror. Roberts' suggested name? "The Fight for a Better World." The plan was ditched shortly after it was hatched.