A few years back at Advertising Week then-Publicis Groupe chief executive and chairman Maurice Lévy quipped that he would not miss rival WPP's Sir Martin Sorrell when he retired. The two executives have frequently exchanged pointed barbs on various topics over the years. Now that Sorrell has resigned, Lévy has shared a few thoughts on the development in a statement provided to MediaPost.
Lévy, current chairman of the Groupe's Supervisory Board, says, "It is sad to see Sir Martin Sorrell resign amid the investigation into his alleged personal misconduct. Indisputably, Martin has built WPP as we know it: the world’s largest advertising company and a fierce competitor."
Sorrell, he adds, "may have been lacking in vision on occasion, yet I maintain that he shaped a truly world-class group. It is well known that our relationships were difficult but I have always had respect for the entrepreneur and CEO: he always had the will to win making all competitions against him extremely interesting and challenging."
Lévy then went on to say, "By contrast, I would be hard pressed to say the same thing for the man and his behaviors: the press is full of examples. I wish Godspeed to him and to the people of WPP in this challenging period."
Lévy and Sorrell's rivalry has been one of the more amusing and entertaining relationships within the ad industry, with Lévy once calling Sorrell a hypocrite and referencing David Ogilvy's description of the diminutive executive as an "odious little jerk." Sorrell, for his part, has called Lévy the "Freddy Krueger of advertising" and claimed Levy's "foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds."