Don’t mess with Sir Martin Sorrell and WPP you Oystercatchers!

They keep doing it don’t they, these people who think they can spirit business out of WPP?

But they can’t, of course, because WPP boss Sir Martin Sorrell is quick to call in the lawyers when anybody tries to leave with a client in the back pocket. Sorrell has made it his life’s work to confound the old agency saw that agency assets go up and down in the lift.

The latest company to have to make a grovelling apology to WPP for such presumption is Oystercatchers, a client-agency marriage counsellor that seems to be trying to branch out into consultancy and backing new ad-related ventures.

Unfortunately the latter involved former WPP types, refugees from brand consultancy Everystone and the Brand Union who wanted to set up a new business called The Great Game.

Here’s the apology from Oystercatchers:

The following statement is made by The Oystercatchers LLP and The Oystercatchers Limited (“Oystercatchers”):

“We make this statement to apologise unreservedly to Everystone Limited (“Everystone”), The Brand Union Worldwide Limited (“The Brand Union”) and WPP for our entirely inappropriate involvement in the venture known as The Great Game which was set up and promoted by Crispin Jameson, David Blyth and others whilst they worked at Everystone and The Brand Union. We deeply regret being involved in that venture in a manner that we know was wrong.

Our conduct in supporting these individuals, when we knew they worked at Everystone and The Brand Union, by contracting with them to provide services, introducing them to prospects and jointly pitching for business, was totally unacceptable.

We accept that we were complicit with those individuals in their flagrant breach of their duties to Everystone and The Brand Union, and we acknowledge that our actions amounted to a misuse of Everystone and TBU’s property and proprietary information. We were not entitled to profit from these wrongful actions and our settlement with Everystone and The Brand Union reflects the position.

We acknowledge that as a result of our misconduct Everystone and The Brand Union have necessarily been put to unavoidable material cost in investigating, pursuing and seeking to remedy the position.

Our conduct was plainly wrong as a matter of law . We accept that Everystone and The Brand Union were entirely justified in issuing legal proceedings against us. We have now reached a confidential settlement with Everystone and The Brand Union. We now look forward to putting this matter behind us.”

Anyway The Great Game, whatever that was or is, presumably a sales promotion company, hasn’t had the best start in life and Oystercatchers has suffered a sharp dose of unpleasant reality. And it won’t be getting too many briefs from WPP agencies in the near future.

Oystercatchers was former by former Haystack Group partner Suki Thompson, one of the London ad agency scene’s trademark formidable blondes, and former JWT London new business director Peter Cowie in 2007.

At JWT the genial Cowie was constantly frustrated by discovering that new business prospects he thought he’d signed up were unwilling to accept WPP’s terms.

But trying to stitch up deals with refugees from Sir Martin’s WPP is a big boy’s game.

It cost ad agency of the moment Adam & Eve £1m when it broke the conditions of its ‘gardening leave’ after the founders left RKCR/Y&R.

At this rate they’ll be putting the stocks up outside WPP’s Farm Street, Mayfair offices to house recalcitrant former employees.

But a few well-aimed eggs and cabbages would be a much cheaper price to pay.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.