Isn’t it ironic?

There’s a slightly delicious irony in the fall-out from Sir Martin Sorrell’s departure from WPP.

In case you weren’t paying attention, Sir Martin was the biggest beast in jungle, having built his WPP empire from nothing to become the biggest group in the global advertising and communications business.  In the Spring he left WPP under a cloud after vague allegations and an investigation into ‘personal misconduct’.  There were juicy rumours and reports he had been seen entering a brothel in Shepherd’s Market – bit of a cliche, but still a good story, whether or not it was on company funds.

Very soon after, it emerged that Sir Marty was launching a new venture S4 Capital.

Sorrellpapers

‘Why is that ironic?’ I hear you say.

Only because WPP, and The Martster in particular, were famously litigious in their enforcement of non-compete clauses when senior staff left the business.  When William Eccleshare left Y&R to become CEO of BBDO he was held to a year’s gardening leave.  Ditto Steve Blamer, who left Grey to join FCB.  When Y & R’s management team of James Murphy, Ben Priest and David Golding jumped ship to set up their new agency, Adam & Eve, they were pursued relentlessly through the courts and the new business was held on ice for a year.  And not just in the US and UK.  A host of others around the world were held to draconian contract terms including Michelle Hutton of Hill & Knowlton in Australia.

But one senior staffer seems to have had no non-compete clause.  Sir Martin himself.

It’s doubly noticeable, because his contract has been the subject of great controversy over the years, so presumably it has been pored over by the great and the good.

One rule for me.  Another for the plebs.

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Wimbledon is upon us

I do love a good sporting trailer, but this Wimbledon animation by McCann London does nothing for me.  It’s all craft.  And wonderful craft too.  Credits:  Nexus Studios’ Smith & Foulkes – yes it’s dead clever animation.  But frankly, Sky Sports does it much better just by harnessing moments of passion and the noise of the crowd.

Close, but no cigar

The Football World Cup (I can’t bring myself to call it the FIFA World Cup, as we’re supposed to nowadays) should be a fantastic opportunity for brands. In particular, it’s a place to borrow the passion and energy of the thing we all get most excited about.  No, not street-fighting and British self-loathing; I’m thinking of the football.

In the past, Adidas had its moments but Nike was King of the World Cup ad – despite not being a sponsor – clever eh?  More recently Beats by Dr Dre has excelled.

But Beats’ new 2018 version is a big disappointment.  It has many of the elements: big names; check, cool track, check, flashbacks, flash forwards, check, underdog story; check …..etc and so on.  But no banana; you just don’t end up caring one way or the other.

 

There’s still time for someone to step in and save the day with a new blockbuster.  In the meantime, let’s just luxuriate in the sheer amazing-ness of the last Beats World Cup ad from 2014.

 

 

That’s better.

The Curse of Cassandra

cassandra

At a conference recently, Jim Carroll, the former Chairman of ad agency BBH, talked about the ‘Curse of Cassandra’ which struck a chord with me.

He described how, years ago, he shared an office with a bright young strategist.  She consistently made excellent arguments, but somehow always failed to convince others.  Her thinking was good, but too often wasted.

As Jim put it:

“She was always right.  But she always lost”

This sort of thing happens a lot in advertising, where everyone has an opinion and the room is often swayed by the most passionate or the most domineering voice.  Or the Boss.

In Homer’s Iliad, Cassandra was the daughter of Priam, King of Troy.  Struck by her beauty, Apollo provided her with the gift of prophecy.  But when Cassandra refused Apollo’s romantic advances, he placed a curse, ensuring that nobody would believe her warnings.

It also echoes the work popularised recently by author Susan Cain, who writes about unlocking the talent of introverts, who are undervalued in today’s excessively competitive workplace.

At this point, I could go into the (many) strategies which the conference speakers described, to address the curse.  Largely by becoming more personally influential, by building our own personal brands and by using the same dark arts we would put into a marketing plan to sell the elements of that plan.

I could, but I won’t.

Because the implication is that we treat every interaction with colleagues as some kind of internal sales pitch.  And maybe that’s just how things are.  But I really don’t want that.

She is a thing of beauty, no?

porto

Not the kit.

The press release, silly.

“The collection features a commissioned artwork featured on the jersey from underground street artist Hazul Luzah. The design, in his signature contrasting line-work and free hand geometric pattern, throughout the jersey … features a combination of White, Dazzling Blue and Maldives Blue. The jersey also features top shoulder bonded tape … and a button shawl flat knit collar. The socks feature an elasticated ankle zone”

 

Bliss.  As ‘The Fiver’ succinctly puts it: Porto unveil their third kit with a blizzard of nonsense.