P&G Gives Sorrell the Nod to Go for Grey

05 August 2004

Master thaumaturgist Sir Martin Sorrell, ceo of WPP Group, has amazed the advertising world by reportedly winning approval from Procter & Gamble to bid for Grey Global Group.

Few clients are willing to entrust their business to an agency that handles competing brands but P&G, in particular, has for decades been notoriously intractable on this issue.

And as every first-year media studies student knows, WPP agencies are bursting at the seams with business from Unilever, P&G's greatest global rival.

However, according to unconfirmed reports from sources close to the matter, P&G has told Sorrell that -- should he win the Grey auction -- it would not perceive there to be a conflict of interest with Unilever provided a cast-iron guarantee is given that Grey remains a discrete unit within the WPP empire.

Such assurances were reportedly exchanged two weeks ago in a face-to-face meeting stateside with senior P&G executives. WPP has declined to comment on the matter, referring inquirers to P&G. The latter also refused comment until a statement is forthcoming from Grey.

Seasoned Sorrell-watchers scent an all but done deal -- subject only to agreement on price between two world-class hagglers: Sorrell and Ed Meyer, Grey's 77-year-old chairman and controlling stockholder.

The news, if true, will leave Publicis Groupe chairman/ceo Maurice Lèvy spitting nails, having less than a month back pulled out of the Grey auction on grounds that P&G would not tolerate any account conflicts.

Data sourced from: MediaGuardian.co.uk; additional content by WARC staff