Last year, Chris Ingram came out a winner after selling Tempus Group to WPP for over $600 million. Last month, he came out a loser of sorts after taking control of the Woking Football Club. "I'm afraid it will cost me money every year," Chris tells Adages. "It is a not-for-profit organization. I would be delighted to make it to a not-for-loss organization. But I am light years away from that." According to U.K. press reports, Chris acquired a majority stake in the club for about L350,000 ($497,000).
"It is a serious hobby," says Chris, who leaves WPP in June. "I'll still have need of a day job, but it won't be working for Woking." (He also swears he will not return to the media-buying business.)
Chris admits he acquired Woking, which is sponsored by Telepeople.com, a recruitment company, because the club was about to go broke. "This is not a very glamorous team," he says. The team has 10 wins and 17 losses, which puts them at number 18 out of 22 teams in the lowly English Conference League, otherwise known as a "non-league."
Does Woking have any star players?
"Nope, not at the moment," says Jeff Chapel, the team manager. "That's what we need, a star."
"It's certainly an ambitious business venture," observes Richard Beaven, director of product development at MediaVest, an avid soccer watcher and fan of Chelsea, a Premier League club. "Maybe [Ingram] is serious about it. But Woking has a long way to go."
Your INS notice is in the mail
Formerly with Starcom Motive London, Beaven is one of the latest among many recent British imports on Madison Ave. It seems agencies have been churning out more work-permit applications than ad copy lately. Check their green cards: Nick Brien at Starcom, Mark Tutssel and Stephen Gatfield at Leo Burnett; Andrew Robertson at BBDO, Paul Woolmington of Media Kitchen, Andrew Green at OMD, Nick McClean and Carl Johnson of TBWA Chiat Day (somebody must have already checked Carl's; he's leaving the country); Charles Courtier of Mediaedge:CIA; David Pattison of OMD; Jerry Judge and Paul Hammersley at Lowe; David Lamb at J. Walter Thompson; Tim Jones of Zenith; and Robin Kent at Universal McCann. Why all the Brits? Rupert Newton, managing partner and U.K. import at Michaelides & Bednash, has a theory: "Americans in general are very good at getting [stuff] done, but there is less emphasis on the strategy," Rupert says. "Whereas, planning is highly valued in the U.K., and its becoming more valued here."
Speaking of strategy, Michaelides, a celebrated U.K. ad think tank, just bowed a campaign for its first client since opening a New York office two years ago. It's for Oxygen, the women's cable network, which acquired cable rights to "Xena, Warrior Princess." "The insight here is about changes in the way we live as a result of the increasing economic power of women," Rupert says. "It's about the blurring of sexual and gender roles, and its intriguing cultural manifestations ... merged families and gender boundaries ... and did you know there are more female DJs than ever before?" So what's the up? "Weee thought it would be really funny if women could learn how to fight like Xena. So we came up with this `Fight like a girl' promotion. We're going to run real kickboxing classes at health clubs. It's a way to get people to experience the program." Brilliant. Well worth a visa.
Fight like a man with [email protected]