WPP’s Sorrell still merrily buying as Omnicom/Publicis saga becomes adland’s version of Game Of Thrones

WPP’s Sir Martin Sorrell is continuing his merry acquisition spree, this time buying digital agency Quirk which has an office in London and four in South Africa.

Quirk’s revenues are about £8m (so reasonably substantial) and it employs 200 people handling clients including Distell, Capitec Bank, Woolworths, Caltex and Tyco. WPP now employs 25,000 people in South Africa on revenues of around $500m, which is a pretty hefty bet on, among other things, another wobbly currency.

It won’t have escaped anyone’s attention that while Sorrell has been buying – he seems to buy a digital agency a week – rivals Omnicom and Publicis Groupe, who are still, officially at least, trying to merge, have not.

Earlier this year Publicis bought 75 per cent of the UK’s Walker Media from M&C Saatchi – for reasons which still remain unclear – but that’s been about it. Omnicom has not been a big buyer in recent years, passing up on digital agency network LBi which went to – Publicis. But PG has depended heavily on acquisitions to drive its rise to the top marcoms table.

And the deal? Well it’s looking more distant than ever. French newspaper Le Monde recently published a lively piece which surmised that PG was actually buying Omnicom because it would end up with over 50 per cent of the shares, with Elizabeth Badinter’s family Unknown-4holding (left) the biggest individual shareholder with seven per cent. Furthermore it stated that Levy had an agreement to be chairman for ever, after he steps down as co-CEO with Omnicom’s John Wren.

This one has more twists than Games Of Thrones. Omnicom’s Wren might be wise to head for the hills before the Queen’s dragons get him.

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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.