DIARY: Walsh is one of WPP's more sensitive souls with his brand poetry

Just when you thought all those WPP agency chiefs were number-crunching clones with hearts of stone beating beneath their Turnbull & Asser shirts, along comes Mike Walsh to prove what sensitive souls they really are. Well, almost.

Ogilvy & Mather's chief executive for Europe, the Middle East and Africa is a firm believer in commercial life imitating art, it would seem.

He's even gone as far as to pen a piece, oddly titled "The Poetry of Brands", in which he claims that odes and brands have a lot in common.

"Their effect is visceral," he waffles. "You know a good brand when you see one, just as you know a good poem when you hear one."

Stop sniggering, class. This is serious stuff. OK, so not many of us have ever compared a Haze aerosol to a summer's day but Walsh is undeterred.

There's an unhealthy obsession with putting a figure on a brand's worth, he complains. And it's as ridiculous as the famous attempt by J Evans Pritchard - the art world's one-man Millward Brown - to evaluate poetry using a graph.

Alas, before every creative director in town can begin cheering from the sidelines, Walsh sticks the ball in his own net. You see, WPP has this wonderful thing called the Brandz database. Apparently, it's just the ticket when measuring a brand's true worth, or "Brandz Voltage", to use WPP parlance.

It gets worse. In true Pritchard style, Walsh can't resist reproducing a series of graphs showing how it all works. Oh dear Mike. Just when it all seemed to be going so well. As T S Eliot might have said, you started with a bang and ended with a whimper.

- Got a Diary story? E-mail campaign@haynet.com or post it to Diary editor, Campaign, 174 Hammersmith Road, London W6.


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