It’s not often that you get WPP’s Sir Martin Sorrell and Havas CEO David Jones together but the BBC’s Evan Davis managed to do so last week, along with one-time City of London ‘superwoman’ Nicola Horlick, now investing in films through her new firm Rockpool Investments.
Davis’s ‘The Bottom Line’ business programme, produced with the UK’s Open University, actually has precious little to do with the bottom line, ie the brutal nuts and bolts of business, rather it’s a way for CEOs to explain why their companies are so good. But Jones and Sorrell make interesting listening.
Jones comes across as adland’s Tony Blair, persuasive and attractive, if a bit short on detail. Sorrell, by now an accomplished broadcast performer, is a bit like an amiable cat; nice to meet unless you’re a mouse.
What was frustrating was Davis’s brief excursion into stress, not just that felt by the CEO but also by the ones working under him or her. Sorrell is known as one of the most fearsome of bosses in this regard; underlings undergo a terrible time if their numbers don’t stack up. Davis knows this perfectly well. But it was never pursued.
Sorrell is much happier talking about big global happenings, like politics or the far more parochial issue of Sunday opening hours in the UK. But that’s media relations for you.
Horlick, even though she’s hardly the City star these days she was once built up to be, was the best of the three.
As for Jones, he spent a lot of time talking about a crowd-sourcing company he’s just bought but was unable to name, for whatever reason. Hardly the bottom line. But Jones was good.
And, you never know, he may get Sorrell’s job one of these days.