THE BOOK OF LISTS: The 10 Best Rumours of 2002

campaignlive.co.uk, Tuesday, 17 December 2002 12:00AM

1. DAWN AIREY

The truth turned out to be stranger than fiction when it came to the machinations of Airey's career moves. She was rumoured, then tipped, and then very publicly courted, by a desperate ITV, to fill the outgoing director of channels David Liddiment's dainty disco shoes. However Airey wrong-footed everyone, including the managements of Granada and Carlton, by going to Sky.

2. CHIME & RED CELL

So will they, won't they? The first six months of the year concerned the flirtations between Lee Daley and Lord Bell and whether HHCL & Partners and Red Cell would ever get it together. Despite, and to the relief of everyone, subsequently agreeing to the merger, the issue still remains unresolved and there are still doubts it will ever happen.

3. GARRY LACE

Everyone congratulated Lace on his appointment as the chief executive of Grey Worldwide. But in private people were less generous with their sentiments when it was rumoured that Lace was pocketing £800,000 basic salary. This figure has never been confirmed. In fact, there are further rumours that Lace himself started the whispering. Would he do such a thing?

4. STARCOM AND MEDIAVEST MERGING

Yawn. This old chestnut got wheeled out so often that by the end of the year everyone was bored stiff of hearing it. Nonetheless, discussing the merger and its possible ramifications still makes decent polite conversation over lunch when other topics have dried up.

5. HOMEBASE MEDIA REVIEW

There wasn't a new-business director in town that wasn't asked if they'd heard about Homebase reviewing its media on at least a twice-weekly basis. This rumour stemmed from Homebase's demerger from Sainsburys and its subsequent creative review. Happily for the incumbent, PHD, the account remains firmly ensconced with the incumbent.

6. "ELECTRICAL RETAILER AT THE AAR"

Martin Jones inspired this wheeze to cover up the KFC pitch - he claimed that the pitch he was overseeing was for an electrical retailer. While the rumour mill went into overdrive with claims that it was Dixons or Comet, the pitch trundled along rather nicely with no-one knowing the truth. Rumours that KFC will now be promoted by acres of tabloid press ads as a result of the AAR's wheeze are so far unsubstantiated.

7. COI AND DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORT

Agencies were thrown into panic when whispers went around that any COI agency found pitching for Department of Transport would be dropped from the COI roster. However, when the controversial pitch ended, DTLR appointed six COI roster agencies.

8. MARTIN BOWLEY AND CARLTON SALES

This rumour could come true as the ITV companies explore ways of circumventing legislation preventing them merging. Bowley and his sidekick Steve Platt are thought to be planning a management buyout of Carlton's TV sales operation but only time and Ofcom can decide if this one becomes a reality.

9. BARCLAY KNAPP & NTL

Despite the rumours and intense City pressure, Barclay Knapp deserves an award for managing to hold on to his position as the chief executive of ntl, because few thought he'd do it. Knapp, you will remember, guided ntl through a costly acquisition spree and then into Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, but to the surprise of some was given a second chance by ntl bondholders. As a concession Knapp did relinquish his second chief executive's job at the US phone and internet company CoreComm, but continued to draw his salary as chairman.

10. NAKED'S AND MOTHER'S INTERNATIONAL EXPANSION PLANS

On the basis that one of Naked's three partners was unavailable because he was visiting Amsterdam, a bizarre rumour started that the company was embarking on plans for worldwide domination. Meanwhile Mother has been strutting its stuff in New York, but can't make up its mind when it's going to grace the Big Apple.

This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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