WPP bans the booze as Sorrell affair rumbles on

It really is last orders at WPP.

Not for under-investigation CEO Sir Martin Sorrell necessarily but his befuddled troops, who’ve been told that they’re not to drink in work places and after hours bars can’t stay open for more than two hours. And staff who find it all a bit too much have be sent home “safely.” Does that mean Uber’s out?

PR Week has discovered a memo sent by CFO Paul Richardson outlining the new policy – as if they didn’t have enough to fret about. A few stiffies might be just the job.

Karl Marx, who didn’t have a lot in common with SMS, wrote that “History repeats itself first as tragedy, then as farce.” He was referring to the fortunes of Napoleon (who SMS has been likened to) and his clownish nephew Louis Napoleon (Napoleon 111).

No doubt more details of the inner doings at WPP will emerge to entertain us all as l’affaire Sorrell drags on. US law firm Wilmer Hale is said to be leading the investigation into SMS’ alleged personal misconduct (which he strongly denies) with assistance from the aptly-named British legal giant Slaughter & May, Allen & Overy (maybe) with one report saying that Lewis Silkin (which does know something about advertising) is representing Sorrell.

Why they need all this lot only WPP knows. It certainly reduces the chances of a speedy resolution: what if one lot says he is, another says he isn’t and the third says it’s a score draw?

Elsewhere we learn, from Sorrell’s ‘friends,’ that he was the brink of chucking it in when he was hauled back from holiday to face the lawyers. Another unnamed friend says the money in question – there seems to be some – is a trivial amount and some on the board are using it as an excuse to get rid of him. Someone at WPP says that’s nonsense but we don’t know who they are or what they do. Or even if they really exist.

Maybe Marx had it right.

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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.

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