It looks like the new generation of leadership at Publicis Groupe and WPP, Arthur Sadoun and Mark Read respectively, are putting to rest once and for all the decades-long feud that marked the relationship between their predecessors Maurice Levy and Martin Sorrell.
Publicis even created an award to commemorate the new collaborative spirit, presented at its Cannes-Do awards on Friday: The Entente Cordiale, or cordial agreement award.
And to seal the deal Read made a remote cameo appearance at the Cannes ceremony, appearing on a giant screen at the Palais’ empty main theatre where Sadoun was Emceeing the award show.
The two executives had a brief but, well, cordial chat about their companies’ collaboration on the Moldy Whopper campaign that has won awards and recognition the world over. “It’s great to have you here,” Sadoun told his WPP counterpart, before asking Read to comment on their “common baby.”
Noting that the project was three years in the making Read said it was a “fantastic idea. Everything worth doing in life just takes time.” Three years, wow, Sorrell was still in charge back then. I guess nobody told him about the budding alliance or he would have killed it on the spot.
That said it is with very mixed feelings that I report all this because let’s face it, that feud added merriment to many a routine day in Adland over the years. Levy once called Sorrell “a little Englishman trying to stir things up,” while Sorrell called Levy “hysterically funny,” as in someone to laugh at, not with. For journalists covering the ad beat the feud was the gift that kept on giving.
Over a decade ago, one published report described their feud as a “Gossip Girl-style Rivalry.”
Now it appears that with the new generation, bromance is in the air.
What's next a merger?
Don't laugh, it could happen. Publicis considered one with Omnicom a few years back if you'll recall. just the other day Interpublic CEO Michael Roth said there’s always going to be consolidation in Adland.
So if Publicis and WPP do end up tying the knot just remember you heard some idle speculation about it here first.