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Martin Sorrell’s Feast of Sacrifice

Over the last 30 years, Martin Sorrell has built up an empire employing 130,000 staff. He undoubtedly viewed himself as king of the jungle. However, ‘The higher the monkey climbs, the more you’ll see of his behind’. And there’s always something that can get stuck to that pink monkey bottom. Some slowed-down iPhones, the misuse of 50 million Facebook profiles. A porn actress, or a little gift from Gaddafi perhaps.

So what exactly stuck in Sorrell’s case? There are stories of the alleged misuse of company property and inappropriate behaviour. Did Martin drive the company car on weekends? Did he share a taxi with his secretary after the New Year cocktail party? No one knows for sure, but the good man has been pilloried anyway. Because that’s how we roll in our digital democracy.

Perhaps we should also be examining the integrity of the complainant. Weinstein should hang of course, but those who drag up bottom-pinching incidents from thirty years ago seem to be more interested in publicity and money than justice. So is Sorrell really such a scoundrel, or is he merely being offered up as the sacrificial lamb by his own board? Sorrell’s WPP is now plummeting out of control and has lost half of its stock value. It may well end up being taken over by Accenture, the company that he so grossly underestimated.

The board has doubtless reflected sadly on memories of the young, highly successful Sorrell and his aggressive acquisition of JWT and O&M. And decided that it’s time for a hard reset. Understandable, certainly, but it could it be managed with a little more elegance? You don’t just shunt the UK’s longest-serving CEO ever off to the Court of Injustice after half a century of successes. He deserves a festive farewell tour. We should lift him on our shoulders and take him on a parade down the Madison Avenues of New York, London and Cannes. And finally, he should be immortalised in Madame Tussauds, alongside that other well-known Sir, Elton John.

Dick van der Lecq

Dick van der Lecq is the Managing Partner at Etcetera.
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