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.

Nasty Leeds (LOL)

It’s no accident that The Guardian’s satirical football bulletin refers to Leeds United as ‘Nasty Leeds’.  They had previously been known as ‘Dirty Leeds’, which was, for some reason deemed insufficient.  Leeds is one of those football teams who manage to pick a fight with anyone and everyone.  Every match they play seems to be a grudge match of some sort; either a fierce local derby or an re-enactment of some past rivalry, injustice or unsavoury incident.

When “feisty” Dennis Wise became Leeds manager a few years ago, he stated that he wanted them to recapture their true character: “I want them to be horrible and nasty, like the great Leeds teams of the past”.

So it was with a slightly bashful smile that I observed Leeds’ latest embarrassment.  Last week, the Club introduced a new badge, which was immediately lambasted by large numbers of fans, through social media.

leedsbadge

The coverage has focused on the fans’ reaction.  The club has promised to consult more widely and review the design.  That’s code for “start again, ‘cos we screwed up”.

The original rationale for the badge is that the ‘chest thump’ is an action known as the ‘Leeds salute’.  The not-always-explicitly-stated issue is that it looks a lot like a kind of fascist salute.  “And nobody wants that” as the armchair football critic might observe.  (But clearly not an accident either, as the armchair Leeds-watcher might observe.)

On the other hand, I would contend, the Leeds badge has a certain “comedy Fascist” quality, which is more funny than threatening.

It’s almost perfectly represented by the characterisation of would-be Black shirt leader Roderick Spode, in the Bertie Wooster stories by P.G. Wodehouse.

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If you don’t believe me, enjoy the clip.

Better to laugh at these things than to get upset, I often feel.