Sorrell denies prostitute allegations, says publicity could affect new S4

Former WPP boss Sir Martin Sorrell was asked on stage at the Cannes Lions if he’d visited a prostitute, paid for by company money, as widely reported.

He told New Yorker writer Ken Auletta that the accusation “wasn’t true,” although he didn’t go into details – about the alleged visit or its funding.

So that’s that then although we’ll see if any of the hacks on his tail turn up anything new.

Later he was quizzed as to whether or not this alleged behaviour – which he has always denied – would affect the prospects for his new communications vehicle S4. “We’ll see,” he said.

That’s the bigger issue for Sorrell. In a #MeToo world big, conservative corporations may be wary of working him, fearing their female employees and customers might object.

Sorrell has previously said that he’s looking for a CEO for his new venture. Sorrell is to be executive chairman and leading shareholder so the room for a CEO looks limited. But that won’t stop a lot of people applying.

Ideally Sorrell would hire a woman for S4, which looks pretty unlikely at this stage.

But he’s confounded his critics to some extent by fronting up at Cannes and playing things with what he would doubtless call a “straight bat.”

Who’s to say he won’t continue to surprise us?

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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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