Ad giant M&C Saatchi names Channel 4 marketing chief as next CEO

  • Zaid Al-Qassab is replacing Moray MacLennan, who quit last September
  • Before working at Channel 4, Al-Qassab was head of branding at BT Group 
  • M&C Saatchi is one of Britain’s most prominent advertising companies 

Channel 4’s departing marketing boss will become the next chief executive of M&C Saatchi, the advertising agency said on Thursday.

Zaid Al-Qassab is set to join in mid-May, replacing Moray MacLennan, who quit last September having been with the ad giant since its breakaway from Saatchi & Saatchi in 1995.

Al-Qassab announced in January that he would leave Channel 4 after five years as its chief marketing officer, where he oversees in-house agency 4Creative and digital brand 4Studio.

Appointment: Zaid Al-Qassab (pictured) will become the next chief executive of M&C Saatchi 

The departure was announced on the same day the broadcaster unveiled plans to cut around 200 jobs and shift to providing more digital services due to challenges in the advertising market.

Before working at Channel 4, Al-Qassab was head of branding at BT Group and worked for two decades at consumer goods giant Procter & Gamble.

His roles at the latter firm included managing director of its British Isles beauty and grooming division, and commercial and operations director in Greece.

Al-Qassab said: ‘I have long admired M&C Saatchi’s creativity and industry-leading work, and I am delighted to be joining one of the most recognised advertising brands in the world.’

AIM-listed M&C Saatchi is one of Britain’s most prominent advertising companies, with over 2,500 employees and operations across 23 countries.

Known for its close association with the Conservative Party, the group’s corporate clients include Amazon, McDonald’s, Uber and flag carriers KLM and Air France.

Under the leadership of Moray MacLennan, the company endured a massive downturn in trade during 2020 when businesses slashed their marketing budgets due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

It also suffered the repercussions of an accounting scandal involving certain divisions in its UK arm overstating income and the amounts owed by clients. 

The Financial Conduct Authority later dropped a probe into the matter.

Two years ago, M&C Saatchi fended off takeover approaches by Vin Murria’s investment vehicle Advanced AdvT and marketing consultancy Next Fifteen Communications.

MacLennan was replaced last autumn as temporary CEO by Zillah Byng-Thorne, the former boss of Future, the publisher behind magazines MoneyWeek, Country Life and Marie Claire UK.

Following Al-Qassab’s appointment, Byng-Thorne will return to being M&C Saatchi’s non-executive chairman.

She told investors that Al-Qassab ‘has proven leadership qualities, has managed global teams, and his client-centric focus, dynamism and commercial acumen will be highly valuable as we look to accelerate our growth trajectory’.

She added: ‘The advertising and marketing landscape is fast-moving, and a modern, forward-thinking, agile leader like Zaid will help shape M&C Saatchi for excellence on the global stage, supported by our exceptional regional leaders across the UK and globally.’

M&C Saatchi shares were flat at 176p on late Thursday afternoon and have risen by around 12 per cent since the beginning of the year.