DIARY: No smoke without ire as Sorrell sends Bell's fag break up in smoke

Eye-witness reports compare it to watching a joust as two of Her Majesty's knights did battle in the foyer of WPP's Farm Street HQ.

But the duel, between Sir Martin Sorrell and Lord Bell, was over neither fair maiden nor personal honour. It was over a fag.

Campaign readers will know that Bell had been attempting to thrash out a deal between HHCL & Partners and Sorrell's WPP for some time. It was a long and agonising process of delayed announcements as both sides attempted to value the deal while the rest of the market collapsed around them.

No wonder Bell felt the need for a cigarette. So spark up he did as he entered WPP's reception, ready for a fresh round of battling, earlier this month.

Unfortunately for him, WPP's is a strict no-smoking office. The company's loyal receptionist told him as much, but a stressed Bell decided to ignore her - he is a Lord, after all.

Enter Sorrell. With all of the confidence of a chief executive of one of the biggest advertising groups in the world, he told Bell to put it out, or feel his wrath. A crestfallen Bell obliged.

A happy ending, one might think. Unfortunately, it would seem that nicotine withdrawal is affecting Lord Bell's memory.

In a letter chastising us for referring to the "loss" of HHCL, the Chime chairman says we've got it all wrong. It wasn't a loss, he argued, it was just part of a natural evolution. "Life moves on," he wrote. As indeed it does. And his Lordship reminded us of a few more examples of advertising evolution ... such as Saatchi & Saatchi being sold to, erm, Havas.

How strange - we seem to have missed that one. The last time we looked, we could have sworn that Saatchis was still a part of Publicis Groupe.

And equally bewildering was Bell's assertion that CDP remained independent and then disappeared.

Er, nearly, Tim. CDP actually sold out to Japan's Dentsu more than a decade ago and today lives on, albeit in a heavily disguised version called cdp-travissully.

Far be it from Campaign to suggest that Lord Bell doesn't know his Abbotts from his Euros. I suppose it can get a bit tricky, what with all those names to remember. What you need is a break, Tim. Why not go and have a fag?

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