Summer 2002 will be remembered as the season of the long knives for media visionaries. The departure of Vivendi Universal's chief executive, Messier, was the first of three biggies. Messier tried to turn a French utilities company into an international entertainment and media conglomerate - a lofty ambition that could not endure 2002's harsh trading climate.
2. THOMAS MIDELHOFF
Bertelsmann's abrasive chief executive also fell victim to an over-ambitious strategy. The ongoing turmoil in the media and publishing industries hit his music and publishing businesses hard as he tried his best to build them into a superpower. In the end, the company's controlling shareholders ran out of patience. Exit Midelhoff stage left.
3. ADAM SINGER
When Singer became the chief executive of Telewest, following its merger in April 2000 with Flextech, the media group he ran, he was in the vanguard of home entertainment. By May this year, the group was able to report growing subscriber numbers but only one figure really mattered: its £5.4 million of net debt. Cue departure of the charismatic Singer.
4. PAUL SIMONS
We're down to smaller fish in the advertising and media pond now. Simons' ousting from Ogilvy in March was marked by unprecedented vitriol. The leaked memo from Mike Walsh, who fired him, spared any niceties (see Best memos of 2002, p49). That's putting it mildly. Once Simons was out, the clock was ticking for Steve Dunn. The creative director Simons had hired two years earlier was out three months later.
5. STEPHEN WHYTE
Leo Burnett ditched Whyte in the grand style. His boss, Steve Gatfield, flew in from America, fired him, and flew out again. The news, broken on Campaign's front page, also saw Bruce Haines handed the group chief executive role.
6. LARRY BARKER
It was handled with aplomb: not a bitchy comment to be heard anywhere (well, not in public), and a pair of creative directors in waiting, ready for action. After more than four years at BMP's creative helm, Barker agreed to step down.
7. NICK PHILLIPS
The gentlemanly Phillips took the rap for Barb's disastrous installation of its new measurement panel. Whispers of legal action inevitably followed.
8. STEVE MORRISON AND STUART PREBBLE
City pressure following the collapse of ITV Digital led Granada's chief executive, Morrison, to the door marked "exit". The demise of ITV Digital also led its chief executive, Prebble, to proffer the necessary resignation.
9. NEW-BUSINESS DIRECTORS
Euro's Emma Trotman, JWT's Claire Durward, Saatchis' Stef Tiratelli and McCann's Will Hamilton found themselves among those out of work as the recession sank its teeth in. Fewer new-business opportunities led many agencies to conclude that fewer new-business directors were required.
10. SALLY DE LA BEDOYERE
A new broom swept through Associated's Evening Standard, first pushing out the editor, Max Hastings, before picking up de la Bedoyere. Associated's golden boy, Mike Anderson, was handed her managing director's role.