Observers, and maybe some participants, often bemoan the lack of big personalities in the ad, marketing and media world.
Since Sir Martin Sorrell was defenestrated from WPP the holding companies have been a more-or-less personality-free zone. Sorrell has done his best at S4 Capital although he’s retired mostly under the radar after recent problems. Arthur Sadoun at Publicis Groupe, who has had health issues, pops up pretty regularly but the bosses of WPP, Interpublic, Havas and Omnicom mostly keep their pronouncements to quarterly results.
The big creative networks lack swash and buckle, ditto the media agencies. Medialand is mostly the same although Mark Zuckerberg regularly makes the headlines. But is he a personality or an avatar? Elon Musk, now also at Twitter, is a personality and a half but his impact doesn’t derive from his media interests.
We should therefore welcome the continued high profile of Rupert Murdoch (above), not everyone’s can of Fosters to be sure, but still a considerable dealmaker with a nice line in dry humour. On his latest surprising move, a fifth marriage at the age of 92 to 66 year old Ann Lesley Smith, just eight months after divorce from Jerry Hall, he said: “It will be my last – it better be.”
The driving force behind Murdoch has always seemed to be his desire to keep the business in the family. The Murdochs control a 40 per cent stake in the voting shares of both News Corp and Fox. Getting married five times is not the preferred course in such circumstances but Murdoch has won out, dishing out plenty of leaving prezzies but still retaining control – with the priceless ability to sell assets at the top of the market. His sale of 39% of Sky to Comcast brought in nearly £30bn.
So Rupert is the last of a seemingly dying breed and for all his sometimes rabid politics should be preserved. In a business landscape dominated by lawyers, bankers (and look what a mess they’ve got us all into once again) and faceless group-thinking business school graduates, a proper personality is a welcome change.
So long as you don’t work for them, maybe.
In my AdScam post about the “Wizened of Oz” yesterday, I advised his bride to be to make sure she packs the Zimmer walking frame and the Oxygen tanks for the honeymoon. The wanker is even older than me!!!