Veteran is lured back into the fold

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The Independent Online
Having lost the Saatchi brothers, the advertising company that still bears their name has lured a Saatchi veteran back into the fold, writes Mathew Horsman. Jennifer Laing has solid credentials in UK advertising and a reputation for straight talk, say colleagues and competitors alike. Some question her awareness of the international market, but no one doubts her understanding of the crucial UK business, where Saatchi hopes to make solid improvements.

Her talents will be desperately required in coming months. Maurice Saatchi has set up a rival agency and is eager to pinch business. Key advertisers have put their accounts out to bid, worried that the departure of senior Saatchi executives may have undermined the company's ability to deliver.

Ms Laing joined Saatchi as a graduate trainee in 1969, jumping to rival firm Leo Burnett in 1979, as group account director. Then-chairman Tim Bell lured her back to Saatchi with a red Ferrari in 1981. ("How very 1980s," Ms Laing said yesterday. "This time, I'll be driving a Toyota.") She became deputy chairman in 1983.

Ms Laing was behind a few well known ads during her years at Saatchi, including a long-running campaign for Schweppes. She also launched the Metropolitan Police Bumblebee campaign and the current television ads for Muller yoghurt.

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