Campaign Global Editor-in-Chief Claire Beale pooped out a perspective on former WPP Overlord Martin Sorrell that demonstrated the woman’s cultlural cluelessness might be second to her corporate cluelessness. This contention can be corroborated with two sentences from Beale’s babbling:
To anyone rubbing their hands at the downfall of our industry’s biggest titan, I say “be careful what you wish for”. The sorry Sorrell saga certainly won’t do anything for the standing of our industry among clients already questioning the value we add.
To call Sorrell the “industry’s biggest titan” is puffery and personal opinion, which seems odd coming from a person purporting to be a professional journalist. It’s also unintentionally inaccurate, given Sorrell is reportedly 5’6.5” tall. Sorrell has certainly collected the biggest bag of money in the history of advertising. And he built the biggest holding company in the industry—a concept he didn’t invent, incidentally. But to crown Sorrell the “industry’s biggest titan” is debatable, even if Beale is only counting living advertising leaders. History will show if Sorrell gains greater recognition and respect than icons like Claude Hopkins, James Webb Young, Bill Bernbach and David Ogilvy. Plus, if the details surrounding the halted investigation involving “personal misconduct” become public knowledge, Sorrell could earn the “industry’s biggest crook” title.
The second disturbing aspect of Beale’s two sentences is her use of the “our” and “we” qualifiers. Since when did Beale join the ranks of adland? Beale referring to “our industry” and “the value we add” is as inappropriate as ESPN sportscaster Scott Van Pelt claiming a Super Bowl victory or FOX News Talk Show Host Sean Hannity identifying as a White House staffer. Then again, perhaps Sorrell’s transformation of the industry included quietly acquiring trade rags along with agencies. (BTW, the photographs serving to illustrate Campaign columnists—e.g., the portrait above that accompanied Beale’s viewpoint on Sorrell—give waaaaay too much prominence to the editors. Perhaps this is another indicator of the staff’s narcissistic self-importance…?)
Actually, Beale made one correct comment with implications that she probably didn’t realize:
But whatever your view of Sorrell—and he’s become such a public figure that plenty of people who’ve never worked for or against him have a view—over the last three decades he’s proved himself a phenomenal businessman.
Yes, Sorrell is a proven phenomenal businessman. It’s tough to say, however, if he has ever been fully embraced as an adman.