Diary: On the QT ...

News Group is looking to halve its fee to £600,000 when it hires its new agency. Word has it that one shop that failed to make the shortlist is now offering to do the job for £300,000. Talk about desperate ... There's a bit of a bandwagon rolling to derail WPP's attempt to impose a year's "gardening leave" on William Eccleshare, who is quitting Young & Rubicam to become BBDO's European chairman. Its battle cry? "Free the Hampstead One" ... Phil Georgiadis came within a whisker of embarrassment at Marc Mendoza's Pepper Children's charity auction at Madame Jo-Jo's.

The best bid for the Walker Media chief executive's offer of a day's consultancy was £100. Fortunately, Vallance Carruthers Coleman Priest's Rooney Carruthers saved his blushes by paying £2,500.Lord Kirkham, the blunt-speaking boss of the DFS furniture chain (adspend: more than £65 million), has no time for the dilettantes south of Watford. Celebrating with his mates at the Leeds-based PWLC, he pulled John Longworth, one of its founding partners, on to the dance floor. However, their impromptu cabaret ended when Longworth collapsed on top of his client. "Fookin' 'ell," his Lordship exclaimed, with Longworth full-length across him. "You don't get this kind of service from London agencies."

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