Murdoch Laces His Doc Martens to Biff Bates

09 May 2003

Rupert Murdoch and his enforcer Tony Ball, chief executive of NewsCorp’s UK satellite monopoly BSkyB, would never kick a man when he’s down. But they may feel differently about a reeling ad agency network.

Cordiant Communications, the hapless agency holding company and parent of network Bates Worldwide, was earlier this week wondering from which quarter of the skies the gods will next rain celestial fire upon its head?

Now it knows. The answer is 28.2E, the orbit of satellite Astra 2A, home of BSkyB.

Word, as yet unconfirmed, is that Sky is about to shift its £40 million ($64.24m; €56.23m) advertising account from Bates to WPP Group’s HHCL/Red Cell network, which already handles creative for Sky’s TiVo variant SkyPlus.

Cordiant is playing down the rumours, insisting they are fuelled by its uncertain position. Meantime, the group’s short term future is stabilized until 15 July. Emergency funding from its bankers has created ten weeks breathing space for the besieged company to raise funds from asset disposals [WAMN: 02-May-03].

And the pressure is one for results ahead of that deadline. “Knowing other agencies are all over your clients is very unpleasant,” admitted a Cordiant insider. “The worry is that we won't have a business to sell unless we move very quickly.”

Data sourced from: BrandRepublic (UK); additional content by WARC staff