I remember very well the weekend I spent with my wife, Ana, together with Wally Olins and his wife Dornie at their home early in 2001.
In the previous year, after 9 years at brand consultancy Wolff Olins, I had joined broadband telco ONO on 3 March 2000. The very day the internet bubble burst.
At Ono, I had seen investment bankers' surreal valuations based on empty promises and examples of leadership solely focused on finding a way to exit with a hefty package.
Tired of empty promises, I wanted to build a brand consultancy that didn’t want to be the biggest, but would aim to be the best.
By this time, Wally had already sold Wolff Olins to global communications group Omnicom and our friendship and mutual respect was as strong as ever. When I shared with him my idea to start something he immediately said: “Jacob, go for it. I will support you and work with you on it.”
I could not miss this train. The oracle of branding on board. My wife supported me. I just had to do it.
Saffron was born, natively global from the very first moment, in London and Madrid on the 26 of March 2001. Our ambition was building a business that admired the ideas of 3 individuals in particular: Schumpeter’s creative destruction approach to growth, Kahneman’s genius discovery of how psychology and economic decision-making are deeply intertwined and, naturally, Wally’s brilliant intellect, and his historical and anthropological reasoning behind the human need to belong and the power of design.
Saffron could never have become Saffron without the staunch loyalty and incredible work ethic of the people that I have been lucky enough to team up with. Nor without the belief that our clients have in our blend of charm and brutality: from YouTube to Vueling, Fujitsu and Kyocera, Bankinter, A1 to Rostelecom, Engie to Swiss Re, London, Turkey or Poland. All have repeatedly engaged and trusted us.
There is something about us that makes us special, unique, powerful. Be it our independence, our diversity or our intellectual hunger, we are different.
Now at 18 years old, we are officially 'grown up'. But although we have shared 18 years of experiences, we remain curious, fresh and truthful. We still have the perfect balance of charm and brutality.
And we plan to continue setting our own agenda for years to come.
Jacob Benbunan, CEO and Founder.