Passion is the key that is likely to win Tempus for Havas

LONDON - Just in case you hadn't cottoned on yet, Chris Ingram does not want Sir Martin Sorrell to buy Tempus. Even if you weren't aware of the buttock-clenched sniping between the two ever since Sorrell became a major Tempus shareholder, Ingram's recent PR drive should have set you straight.

Claire Beale, recommends

WPP Group

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Ingram and his board have put their backs behind the £425m Havas offer, amid much nail-biting and bowel-churning at the prospect of Sorrell making a counter-bid. And by last weekend Ingram was insisting that he would rather leave the company he founded in 1974 than work for a WPP-owned Tempus (though there are undoubtedly worse things than quitting with at least £60m in your pocket).

But just to drive the message straight between the eyes, Havas' chairman and chief executive, Alain de Pouzilhac, was in town last week to underline that this is not simply a case of Ingram looking for a white knight protector from the evil Sorrell. There is, says de Pouzilhac, an imperative cultural fit between Havas and Tempus.

There is certainly something quite persuasive about the approach of de Pouzilhac and Fernando Rodes, whose family launched what has now become Havas' media network, Media Planning. And I don't just mean the tangible Continental charm. De Pouzilhac himself is a rare beast among the chiefs of the global holding companies -- a man who recognises the potential of a fully empowered media brand operating at the high end of the communications process.

Unlike his counterparts at Interpublic Group or Omnicom, de Pouzilhac is not only committed to aligning communications strategy and planning with the media offer rather than the creative agency, but also to building a truly multicultural company.

One irony, though, is that Sorrell could actually make a pretty good second choice for Tempus if the personal relationship between the two chiefs hadn't become so redundant. WPP at least has a clear media vision, a true feel for the value of media and a need for a strong media management team to bolster the painfully flaccid new management team that is attempting to breathe life into Young & Rubicam's desperate Media Edge.

What Havas and Media Planning can offer, however, that WPP seems to lack, is passion. That may sound like rather a quaint quality in these days of global marketing and, more pertinently, economic downturn, but for anyone who loves the business as Ingram clearly does, it's a vital consideration. De Pouzilhac told me: "I am very sensitive to human qualities. I was seduced by Fernando's human qualities and now Chris's. Chris Ingram is someone who has the most pure vision. We need him a lot and have enormous respect for his company." And for that Havas would get my vote.