Joanna Baldwin’s last minute decision to renege on her agreement to
join Bates Europe and grab the bait dangled before her to remain at
Publicis is a matter between her and her conscience (Campaign, last
But it’s hard not to sympathise with Jean de Yturbe, the Bates Europe
chairman, whose bitterness at what he believes to have been
dishonourable conduct boiled over in a public outburst.
Nor does the sour-tasting affair reflect particularly well on Publicis,
which seems to have dallied an unnecessarily long time before offering
Baldwin the international new-business role she craved.
What such a tug-of-war demonstrates, however, is the measure of
globalism’s grip on the business - and the extent to which network
chiefs are prepared to go to capture the people who will empower them to
play the global game.
For both Publicis and Bates, the stakes are high. Publicis, distinctly
lightweight when it comes to international expertise, has yet to emerge
fully from its European heartland to become a global player.
Bates, meanwhile, is desperate for more global business not only to
provide extra cement for the network but to safeguard its independence
after the demerger from its former Cordiant parent.
Senior managers such as Baldwin - capable administrators with almost
unique knowledge of their networks - have replaced the creative
superstars who could secure a lottery winner’s income by playing rival
agencies off against each other.
The inter-agency rumpus, which was provoked by Baldwin’s volte-face, may
have been the first of its kind in the industry. But it won’t be the