Diary: HSBC pitch puts WPP's Sir Martin in a fluster

The HSBC pitch may still be weeks from completion but it has already produced more than its fair share of column inches.

Rightly so, the stakes are high for the three communications groups now locked in a fierce battle for the business with a global marketing budget worth up to £600 million.

Later this month, Omnicom, WPP or Publicis Groupe will claim the spoils after weeks of the networks' "dream teams" travelling the length and breadth of the globe.

Indeed, it seems that the long hours and high mileage - both of which have been accrued at a savage pace - are beginning to take their toll on even the toughest of the tough.

According to one of our spies, even the WPP group chief executive, Sir Martin Sorrell, was slightly less than his usual unruffled self after coming out of a meeting with the bank.

Sir Martin and his crew - J. Walter Thompson's executive creative director, Nick Bell, and Toby Hoare, the chief executive of "Team HSBC" - were hurrying out of a face to face with the client. They bumped into an opposing team comprising the Omnicom Group chief executive, John Wren, Proximity London's chief executive, Chris Thomas, the group chairman of Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, Michael Baulk, and the agency's executive creative director, Peter Souter.

As the story goes, Sorrell got himself in a bit of a fluster, dropping the papers he was carrying all over the floor. Fortunately Wren stepped in to save the day, sending Sorrell a briefcase as a present.

The next thing you know, they will be swapping notes.

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