Publicis is to challenge a lawsuit by the comedy actor, Martin
Clunes, who is suing the agency for more than pounds 200,000 over a pair
of commercials he was to have starred in and directed, but which were
A High Court writ issued last week by Clunes and his company, Buffalo
Pictures, claims damages for breach of a contract to make the films in
December last year.
Publicis this week denied that any contract was agreed and pledged to
contest the allegations.
According to the writ, the Men Behaving Badly star agreed an oral
performance contract with the agency under which he would have been paid
pounds 200,000 for appearing in the commercials.
It also claims there was an agreement for Buffalo to employ Clunes as
director of the films at a rate of pounds 5,000 a day.
Richard Hytner, the Publicis chief executive, would not say what product
the proposed commercials would have been advertising.
He said: ’We talked to Clunes about working with him, both as an actor
and a director, but we decided not to proceed and no agreement was
Clunes, whose best-known ad work is as the voice of the precocious
toddler, Harry, in Bates Dorland’s Safeway campaign, has had ambitions
to establish himself as a commercials director since he directed
Staggered, a Bafta award-winning feature film, in 1994. At the end of
last year he signed as a commercials director for BFCS.
A spokesman for Buffalo Pictures said: ’We have no comment to make on
the case and neither has Martin.’
The last major legal battle between a commercials director and an agency
happened in 1993 when Tony Kaye became embroiled in more than two years
of litigation with Saatchi & Saatchi.
The pounds 730,000 dispute concerned a disagreement about production
costs incurred during the making of a 1992 commercial for British
Airways. It was eventually settled in April 1995 on ’mutually acceptable