Thanks to some Daily Telegraph-style subterfuge we have succeeded in gaining an early look at The Secret Diary of Martin Sorrell (aged 13 and a bit). This will be serialised in full, we believe, in, er, the Daily Telegraph. It is, of course, the great man’s first autobiographical effort even if it has surfaced by mistake.
It contains the thoughts and predictions of the embryo world business leader as he turned 13 in 1959. And amazingly prescient the predictions are.
1958: Enjoying myself at Hab’s (skool) but a lot of the boys are very frustrating. All they want to do is sit around and smoke and listen to jazz and rock and roll. They keep talking about someone called Miles Davis and his new record. I prefer a good tune myself. I wonder what the future will bring?
1963: Win ticket to Christ’s College, Cambridge to read economics. Mum and Dad thrilled (although it will only make Dad even more keen for me to join the family TV rental business). People seem to think economics is boring but I think it’s good. Someone called me a number cruncher the other day.
1966: Get 2.2 in finals, not so good. Maybe I’m not a number cruncher after all!
1975: Offered finance job by a funny chap called Maurice Saatchi who wears big glasses. Try to tell him I’m not an accountant but he keeps saying “nothing is impossible.” Which doesn’t seem to make sense really.
Anyway this advertising lark is a bit of an eye-opener. If you run out of money you just send the client a bigger bill. Place seems to be run by a flash Harry called Tim Bell who just laughs when I try to tell him anything. And Maurice’s horrid elder brother Charles who says nothing to you at all until he shouts.
1977: Promoted to group finance director. Keep telling them I’m not an accountant. Charles wants to buy companies all over the place so I tell him he can do this by issuing more shares and then paying the rest on the never never. Charles smiles at me for the first time. My old skool friend Morrie tells me this won’t work as the bills have to paid in the end. But what’s he know? He’s just an accountant in Edgware.
1985: Decide to branch out on my own and buy a company making supermarket trolleys (Wire & Plastic Products). Now this is a proper business! But decide to buy a few design companies too (well it’s a shame not to).
1987: Buy a Madison Avenue ad agency called J. Walter Thompson for $566m. Apparently JWT called himself the Commodore and wore a naval uniform but he wasn’t a proper sailor. Bit flash like that Tim Bell. Bell has left the brothers and is now working with Frank Lowe (poor devil). Charles is trying to buy the Midland Bank. Morrie says this is barmy but what’s he know? He’s just had to move to St Albans.
1989: Buy another US ad agency Ogilvy & Mather for $825m. This hasn’t gone down very well though. The bank manager says it’s too much when the assets go up and down in the lift (he could have told me that when I bought JWT!) and some funny Scottish bloke called David Ogilvy says I’m a “nasty little s***.” And City analysts, “teenage scribblers” as that great economist J. Walter Keynes (or something like that) called them, are starting to make jokes about my height too!
Also learned today that Tim Bell is going to get a knighthood in the New Year’s Honours List. I could tell a story or three about him!
The good news? Not much really, bank manager being extra stroppy and says I’ve got to put some money into the company or he’ll take away the cheque book. Bet Charles Saatchi never had to do this. But Ogilvy’s shut up finally after I made him president for life and promised to pay to have the roof on his French castle repaired.
2000: Arise Sir Martin! And not before bloody time! Mind you it would be even better if that flash bugger Bell hadn’t just been made a Lord.
2001: The world is rocked! Is it Armageddon as the Word Trade Centre crumbles into the dust? And more to the point it makes the £432m I’ve just offered to pay for Chris Ingram’s media business Tempus look a bit toppy. Maybe Chris will help me out and hand over the figures showing the business is going through the floor? Er, no he won’t. Honestly, what some people will do for sixty million quid!
2008: Dear Diary (I’m not going to print this bit). Marry Cristiana Falcone, a posh bird from Davos (good). She’s going to be rebranded as Cristiana Falcone-Sorrell (also good). But have to mortgage shares to pay Sandra (first wife) £30m. That’s half as much as Chris Ingram! But win £12,000 in damages from that pasta muncher Marco Benatti who called me a “mad dwarf” and my COO in Italy Daniella Weber a “schizo nympho.” Nobody told me she was schizophrenic….
So what’s that? £30m out and £12,000 in (less legal costs, say £1m). Definitely not good. Maybe Morrie had a point.
2011: And then…oh, not sure about this business lark. Maybe I’ll be a writer instead.