We're in Shearman’s office a couple of weeks ago, the morning after the firm secured A&O’s agreement in principle to merge. Becks Blue bottles litter the floor. 

Adam Hakki, Senior Partner of Shearman & Sterling, lies asleep at his desk, his fingers still crossed, party popper streamers draped across his head.

A thumping noise comes from the ceiling, then a panel breaks loose and a dusty body plummets onto his desk.

HAKKI: Aaaah!

SAATCHI, the legendary advertising guru, groans and climbs to his feet. He is malnourished and filthy.

SAATCHI: They would not let me in the front after last time

HAKKI: What do you want?

SAATCHI: What Saatchi wants is not important - what you want is a new name.

HAKKI: For what?

SAATCHI: For your merger with Allen & Overy.

HAKKI: What! How do you know about that? We haven’t announced it yet.

SAATCHI: I shall level with you, I have been living up there. 

HAKKI: In the ceiling?

SAATCHI: Deliveroo bin scraps, a monthly pit wash in the client loos, and insider info. Rich pickings for a canny ad man. 

HAKKI: You need help.

SAATCHI: That makes two of us, but right now it is my turn to help you: announce the merger as if it's all agreed, now.

HAKKI: That would be very premature. The partners haven’t even voted yet.

SAATCHI: Exactly. Do not give them an out. That was your mistake with Hogan Lovells. You must announce the merger, unveil your new name, spin up a logo - the whole shebang.

HAKKI: But the A&O partners could still vote against it.

SAATCHI: Not if it has been presented it as a done deal. They will not want to make you look foolish.

HAKKI: Do you know anything about lawyers?

SAATCHI: I know a little about PR, and I am about to tell you a lot of it: if you announce the merger loudly enough, it will not matter if it is voted down.


SAATCHI: You will be yoked together in the public imagination. Everyone will think you are part of A&O whether you are or not.

HAKKI: I’m not sure-

SAATCHI: And with that billable revelation, I give you the new name and logo.

sterling overy

HAKKI: I do like the female focus. 

SAATCHI: Yes, everyone is about chick-friendly shit these days.

HAKKI: Excuse me?

SAATCHI: Everyone is about empowering women in the workplace.

HAKKI: Right. But it’s a little too leftfield for us, especially as we're ‘Overy’ not ‘Ovary’.

SAATCHI: Got it. You want broader appeal.


SAATCHI: You want stylish.

HAKKI: Is that possible?

SAATCHI: If we change things up a little, yes. Say hello to your new firm.


HAKKI: Isn’t ASOS already a thing?

SAATCHI: And now it is your thing.

HAKKI: I don’t think we’ll get away with that.

SAATCHI: Then how about an alternative remix for the real ones?


HAKKI: As a general principle I’d like to avoid having ‘ASS’ in our name.

SAATCHI: I did not pick up on that.

HAKKI: Really? The logo is an ass.

SAATCHI: I thought it was a face without eyes. That is why I added eyes.

HAAKI: It’s not for us.

SAATCHI: Can we go blue sky?

HAKKI: Until security arrives, sure. 

SAATCHI: Should Shearman & Sterling be the pioneer that recovers ‘SS’ as a naming concept?


SAATCHI: I thought I would check. In that case, how wedded are you to 'Sterling'?

HAKKI: As a currency, very, as a name, we’re flexible.

SAATCHI: Time to lose Sterling and gain your new name!


HAKKI: Is that a drunk mispronouncing ‘Alan Shearer’?

SAATCHI: The common touch.

HAKKI: We want the elite touch. We’re going to be Magic Circle. 



HAKKI: Please can we lose Alan Shearer and the other guy.

SAATCHI: That is a shame, I had to pay Shearer and Darren an awful lot for their image rights. Or rather, you did.

HAKKI: What?

SAATCHI: No matter. Ta-da!




HAKKI: OK, that is a possibility.

SAATCHI: And to really nail it into the minds of the people, I have got a second name that I can also give you and charge you for: 'Allen Overy Shearman Sterling'.

HAKKI: Why do we need two names?

SAATCHI: Because I sustained a serious concussion falling through my living room floor.

HAKKI: I need to think about all this.

SAATCHI: Go ahead, although I made the announcement five minutes ago. My invoice is huge, I mean in the post.

HAKKI: Wait, what-

SAATCHI: Next stop, A&O. If anyone can get them over the line, I can. I shall be back before bedtime!

Saatchi wrenches the cover off an air conditioning vent and wriggles into it, thrashing his way along the tube to the outside world, leaving behind another satisfied customer.