I was told I could ‘write my own narrative’ when I left M&C Saatchi.
M&C Saatchi, Sydney has instructed Group Creative Director Andy Flemming that he can choose the manner of his own departure after an emotional meeting via video call. He will remain at the agency until the end of August.
The award-winning writer immediately chose ‘death by long sword’ before being instructed that this was a redundancy question, and not the kind of decree barked by a medieval judge in one of the fantasy boxsets that he’s been smashing through since the start of lockdown.
“I initially chose ‘more time to spend with my family’ as that seemed a particularly common excuse in these press releases,” said Flemming, when we spoke to him today. “But then I realised that I’ve been stuck with them for months and my daughter’s Christmas presents of a bass guitar and amp has become one of my greatest regrets of 2021.”
He was then offered ‘the chance to pursue exciting opportunities elsewhere’ but rejected this due to it being the absolute number one excuse used by parties who departed without a job to go to, but somehow wanted to give the impression that there was some sort of majorly impressive international job on the horizon as opposed to sprawling on the couch and playing Assassins Creed Valhalla in their pants.
Flemming immediately accepted a puff piece in the middle of the release that would list his accomplishments and would approve the HR quote about him being ‘proud of his team, and have no doubt that he’s set the groundwork for their continued growth and personal success.’
In fifteen years, Flemming has been one of the most influential writers in M&C Saatchi, if not the industry, with work such as Optus ‘Ricky Gervais’ and ‘Idris Elba’, ‘Can Kids’ for CommBank and ‘Matesong’ for Tourism Australia. Alongside the legendary Tom McFarlane, he helped build the CommBank ‘CAN’ brand from scratch and wrote exceptional long body copy ads that at least one international judge was quoted in the press as being ‘just too long to read.’ He was also part of almost every major pitch win, including the recent Tourism Australia pitch in 2018. He’s also won numerous awards in Cannes, D&AD and all those other little ones.
Flemming has also shared his exploits, failings, inability to stand after Rose and judging exploits in his long running ‘Cannes Diaries’ for CB that have been read by hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. In his spare time, he lectures film at UTS and plays ‘Assassins Creed Valhalla.’
“I’d like a quote from Cam and Tom McFarlane – if you can get him,” said Flemming.
“Andy is a self-proclaimed sniper and I’d second that,” says M&C Saatchi CCO Cam Blackley. “Whilst we’ll miss him in the day to day, he’ll only ever be a phone call away for special operations. In all seriousness, it was Andy that welcomed me into the agency, he’s been a rock. I described him as a ‘scholar and a gentleman’ to the agency earlier and that’s the truth. He leaves an unparalleled legacy. His Ricky Gervais work for Optus is one of the greatest pieces of modern advertising in my opinion.”
Adds Tom McFarlane: “What can I say about Andy that he can’t say about himself far more eloquently. He’s everything a good writer should be. Witty, curious and a lover of words. I enjoyed nothing more than seeing him strut through my door, just hours after receiving a brief, loudly declaring- ‘I’ve cracked it… and it’s fucking brilliant!!’ And it nearly always was. On the occasion it wasn’t, he’d exit, unbruised by rejection and reappear a short while later, with an idea that was indeed, utterly brilliant. And it’s that resilience that makes Andy a truly great writer.”
Flemming finally decided that telling the truth was possibly the most unusual and unexpected release narrative. Says Flemming: “To be honest, my GCD role was becoming unfeasible, and M&C Saatchi bent over backwards to make sure that redundancy was absolutely their last wish – going so far as to offer me other roles within the organisation. But fifteen years is a ridiculously long time, and it seemed the right moment to take stock and peruse another adventure, wherever or whatever it is. M&C has been my home for a long time. It’s in great hands and it’ll be a little odd to watch their successes from the outside.”
Flemming, whose departure was announced to M&C Saatchi on Friday, will remain at the agency until the end of August.
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