Martin Sorrell Warns WPP Employees to Stay On Guard After Merger Collapse

Beware of 'Wounded' Publicis and Omnicom Execs, Writes WPP Chief in Internal Memo

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WPP CEO Martin Sorrell has been, as expected, extremely vocal about the collapse of the Publicis-Omnicom merger. In the wake of the news, he sent a note to employees at WPP and its agencies, warning them that the "current leaders" at Publicis and Omnicom are "wounded" and "will almost certainly lash out." Below are excerpts from the memo, which Ad Age obtained.

Subject: Sunday's note reissued: one e acute (é) and hyphen missing - The deal that never was (or it just goes to show that égalité et fraternité doesn't play well in Palm Beach)

Last July, I wrote to you to give you early warning of what we branded as POG. Today, I'm writing after its failure. John and Maurice called it off, to some perhaps, almost as surprisingly as when they announced it.

The latest volte-face reflected the putative deal's lack of strategic logic for clients and people, a clunky structure, regulatory and tax issues and escalating problems with clients and people - the latter despite continual protestations to the contrary. Recent POG client defections to WPP alone in April, included Vodafone, M&S,, Pepsi China, Papa John's, E*Trade and Miller Lite. This also excludes the POG accounts that have also been put into review. People defections at senior levels are running at 4:1 in our favour since last July, the latest on Friday at the same time as John Wren was vehemently denying any single loss on his POG termination call...

There is no doubt that P and O and their current leaders are wounded and will almost certainly lash out, as they try to prove that staying apart is actually better than than being together - which begs the question of why they bothered in the first place...

I also wanted to emphasise that the dismantled POG will inevitably try to shrug off their failure by redoubling their efforts with clients and people and acquisitions and we should, in response, continue implementing the very successful plans we activated last July to ratchet up our client and people focus, both internally and externally, and accelerate our small and medium-sized acquisitions programme, which was very well received by investors. Our success has been stellar in terms of clients, people, financial and stock market performance, particularly in comparison to P and O. The collapse of POG will only continue to bring significant opportunities with clients and people. POG was clearly a case of eyes bigger than tummy. Let's make sure we stay focussed on our strategy and its execution and learn from POG's mistakes.


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