WACL Speaker Dinner, Tuesday 11th March 2008
Between 1988 and 1999 Adam Crozier steadily moved up the ranks at Saatchi & Saatchi, a renowned and expanding international marketing and advertising agency. He survived a major shake-up in 1995 caused when the company's founders resigned under pressure and then created a rival agency. Crozier ended his career at Saatchi & Saatchi holding the position of joint chief executive, having helped stabilize, rebuild, and expand the company's client base, despite analysts' predictions of disaster. Starting late in 1999 Crozier served as chief executive of the Football Association, one of Great Britain's two national soccer leagues. At the Football Association, Crozier met with controversy as he successfully began modernizing and reorganizing the institution. By the time he was forced to leave, Crozier had dramatically increased revenue and brought in the first non-English coach of the national England team.
In 2003 Crozier was hired by the Royal Mail Group to provide leadership in its transition from a floundering government monopoly mail and package delivery service to a competitive, modern institution that would be prepared for the government-mandated deregulation that would open the primary
British postal market to competing international carriers in 2007. Crozier's strategy and leadership met with as much controversy at the Royal Mail Group as they had at the Football Association and for much the same reason—resistance to change. Crozier was consistently described by coworkers and journalists as well mannered, affable, and low-key in outward demeanor but a tough change agent underneath who valued fairness, pragmatism, and success.
Crozier came from a tight-knit family. He was the second of three children and the only boy. He played soccer in high school and studied business organization in college at Heriot-Watt, not sure of his career path. Crozier's first noted business experience started at Mars Pedigree pet food, where he worked as a graduate trainee. He later told Andrew Davidson of Management Today that it was at Mars that "he learnt about the importance of deciding clear objectives, and plotting how you can achieve them, before leaping into a project." Deciding to try something new, in 1986 Crozier joined the sales division of the Telegraph newspaper group, which had recently been acquired by the Canadian Conrad Black and was undergoing reorganization. Crozier was subsequently rebuked for exaggerating his sales figures, almost losing his job. In the long run Crozier considered the experience a useful lesson in humility. After two years Crozier was hired in 1988 as a low-level media executive by the successful and growing international advertising group Saatchi & Saatchi, then headquartered in London. He took to the work and was promoted repeatedly.
By later accounts Crozier enjoyed his media work and worked hard to acquire new business. Working on a new Sky TV account, he met his future wife, Annette. Together they acquired the account. Although seemingly quiet in demeanor, Crozier was drawn to magnetic personalities at Sky TV and Talk Radio, and they were responsive and friendly.
Clients liked Crozier and, because he was calm, charming, rational, and reassuring during negotiations, requested him in person. Eventually Crozier supervised 35 major international advertising accounts. He rose to the positions of media director in 1992 and vice chairman in 1994. After they were forced out by internal conflict, the company's founders and namesakes created a rival agency that took a substantial portion of the staff and clientele with them. Crozier stayed at the original company and was appointed joint chief executive with Tamara Ingram. He was only 31 years old. "Everyone thought we would collapse like a pack of cards," he later told Lisa Campbell of the trade journal Campaign. "No-one predicted that we would come back as London's second largest agency." Crozier and Ingram succeeded by patiently rebuilding the company and restoring its profitability by carefully working with existing clients and adding new ones. Crozier left for a new position in late 1999, less than a year before the French-owned Publicis Groupe bought out Saatchi & Saatchi.
A GOOD KICKING
While at Saatchi & Saatchi, Crozier advised the Football Association on its potential bid for the 2006 World Cup. He loved football (soccer) and often played for fun with the Saatchi clubhouse team. Not too surprisingly, given his success at Saatchi, Crozier was offered the opportunity of leading the English Football Association, which according to its own assessments was in dire need of a competitive marketing strategy and general modernization, especially in light of successes by the Premier League, the rival soccer organization in the United Kingdom.
When he became chief executive of the Football Association in 1999, earning a £300,000 salary, Crozier acted quickly. In his first year he presented a three-year reorganization plan and had it approved; relocated the association headquarters from Lancaster Gate to Soho Square; and replaced more than half of the existing staff, the average age of staff members decreasing from 55 to 32. Crozier replaced the 91-member oversight board with a 12-member committee. Within three weeks of the resignation of Kevin Keegan, the manager of the national England soccer team, Crozier found a replacement: Sven-Goran Eriksson, a successful coach, but from Sweden. Eriksson's appointment met with resistance, but he proved a winner, taking England to the World Cup quarterfinals against Brazil, which eventually won the championship. Crozier also proceeded with plans for the new Wembley National Stadium. As a fellow Saatchi & Saatchi associate predicted to Campbell before Crozier took the job, Crozier also initiated detailed market research and "treated the fan as a customer." Crozier set up the Football Association's first marketing department. Profits from marketing, merchandise, and television and other revenue shot up from an estimated £3 million in 1999 to £125 million in 2001. But Crozier had several critics, such as the Chelsea chairman Ken Bates, who angrily resigned from the Wembley National Stadium board and aired his opposition in the press. Even successful change came at a cost, and under fire by some of the old guard but having done most of what he had set out to do under the reorganization plan, Crozier resigned. He then took on, along with Allan Leighton, the new chairman of the board, the even more daunting task of leading the restructuring of Royal Mail Group.
ROYAL MAIL GROUP
Crozier and Leighton's overall task at Royal Mail Group was to streamline and galvanize the government-affiliated mail and delivery service so that it could meet the challenge of deregulated competition mandated to begin in 2007. The huge organization, operating at or near monopoly status for three centuries, had been losing money. When Crozier took over as chief executive, Royal Mail Group was emerging from the failed experiment of renaming itself "Consignia" and had already announced layoffs of 32,000 employees. Crozier's challenge was daunting: implement a three-year renewal plan affecting more than 200,000 employees while making a profit. Crozier reached out to his employees and began his first week on the job doing postal delivery rounds starting at 4:30 a.m. and explaining the importance of restructuring. "They are absolutely up for change but nobody likes change, change is difficult," Crozier told the Glasgow Sunday Herald (June 20, 2004).
At the end of his first full year at Royal Mail Group, Crozier and his management team oversaw a profit. However, with only a 2.5 percent profit margin, the impact of layoffs, and more changes underway, Crozier deferred contractual bonuses for a year. In addition to increasing profit, Crozier emphasized better marketing, streamlining, and improvements in delivery service. As with the United States Postal Service, regular mail deliveries were reduced from two to one per typical day; carrier pricing was changed to reflect the size of envelopes as well as weight; and incentives were planned to give postage discount incentives to businesses that presorted their direct marketing and billing mailings. Crozier and Leighton also negotiated carefully with employee unions, arguing that out of necessity, wage raises and cost-of-living adjustments had to be held to a minimum to retain competitiveness and viability. As with his stint at the Football Association, Crozier's leadership came under criticism, but by mid-2004 many of the changes he had sought were beginning to take effect, well before the 2007 deadline for deregulation