Sir Martin Sorrell is said to be dangling bundles of crisp paper rectangles bearing improbably youthful portraits of Her Majesty the Queen beneath the receptive noses of shareholders in ailing London-headquartered agency Leagas Delaney.
Leagas Delaney chairman and co-founder Tim Delaney has been trawling the adworld’s oceans for a buyer since last year when a £62 million takeover deal with Canadian media group Envoy Communications foundered on the twin rocks of global recession and the loss of two key Leagas accounts - the BBC and Coca-Cola.
The agency was dealt a further blow last month when its flagship Adidas account revealed it was decamping to TBWA. Nor have Leagas’ fortunes been helped by internal strife which in December prompted chairman, Bruce Haines to quit in the wake of ructions with Delaney.
If the deal with WPP Group is finalised, Leagas is likely to become the London flagship of the former’s fourth global agency network, Red Cell, itself in a state of flux after a string of high profile departures followed its formation last year.
In December, Sorrell partially stabilized the network with the acquisition of New York creative hotshop Berlin Cameron & Partners, exhibiting, reported Adweek, “tremendous largesse”. [WAMN: 18-Dec-01].
Leagas has expanded rapidly since its £4 million management buyout from Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO in 1998. It now has offices in Paris, Rome, Hamburg and San Francisco – although plans to open additional European offices were shelved after the deal with Envoy fell through.
Meantime, neither Leagas Delaney nor WPP will talk about their romance – let alone the prospects for a marriage.
Data sourced from: MediaGuardian.co.uk; additional content by WARC staff