The New York Times: An investigation by the WPP Group into its own operations in Italy is pitting its pugnacious chief executive, Sir Martin Sorrell, against an equally aggressive Italian businessman and casting light on a disorderly corner of Sir Martin’s normally tightly controlled empire.
[EDITOR’S NOTE: That’s a great lead. I don’t want to mess with it. I want to show it to you. Okay, back to the story.]
Early last month, WPP fired Marco Benatti, a consultant who was in charge of acquisitions in Italy, as part of a continuing investigation into suspected fraud. Other executives in Italy will also be dismissed soon as a result of the inquiry, according to a person close to that investigation who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of fears of legal action.
Mr. Benatti has already called the firing “brutal” and “unjustified.” He plans to file a lawsuit soon against WPP, contending that he was treated unfairly, said an executive briefed on his plans.
The dispute between Sir Martin and Mr. Benatti is turning into the advertising industry equivalent of a street fight, where blows and counterattacks are not landed with fists. Instead, they are being carried out through press releases and by public relations executives who are whispering to journalists.
Matters Of Empire
I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am now head of brand strategy and creative direction at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.