LONDON: The show predicted by many to become adland's longest-running comedy ground to an abrupt halt Wednesday in London's High Court, as its four stars unexpectedly agreed a new ending and brought down the curtain.
Both sides, however, are claiming they got the best reviews.
Ennunciated leading man Sir Martin Sorrell, chief executive of WPP Group: "It's a very good day for us. The damages speak for themselves."
While dashing Signor Benatti, who with partner Tinelli comprise the famed Italian comedy duo The Two Marcos, declaimed: "Sir Martin Sorrell has fled the battlefield."
Behind the scenes, however, farce is a serious business, as has been the case since Shakespeare's day. With straight face Sorrell's barrister, Desmond Browne QC, read to the press from an agreed script that ended the eleven-day libel hearing.
"FullSix [the media company owned by Benatti], Marco Benatti and Marco Tinelli repeat their acceptance that the allegations complained of in the blogs in the libel action are untrue, and that the emails which are the subject matter of the privacy action infringe the claimants' privacy.
"For his part, Mr Sorrell acknowledges that Mr Benatti and Mr Tinelli have given assurances that they were not personally responsible, so he is not pursuing his complaint that Mr Benatti or Mr Tinelli was personally responsible.
"The claimants have accepted payment of $197,000 (€147,775; £100,453) to Mr Sorrell for the publication of the libel and $59,000 and $39,000 for Ms Weber and Mr Sorrell, respectively, for the dissemination of the offending emails as money paid into court on behalf of all the defendants without admission of liability on February 9. The parties have agreed terms as to costs."
Daniela Weber. the show's leading lady and WPP's chief operating officer for Italy, had nothing to say to the waiting press pack. Sir Martin, however, used his rich and resonant tones to achieve a Lear-like effect: "It's difficult to imagine a more vengeful attack, or anyone stooping so low," he intoned.
Benatti, on the other hand, struck a pose reminiscent of Henry V before the Battle of Agincourt.
"Having accused the defendants in open court of lying, and challenged them to explain themselves, Sir Martin Sorrell has fled the battlefield. One can only conclude that Sir Martin now recognizes his case was fatally flawed."
On which note the curtain fell to the sound of a single handclap.
Data sourced from AdAge.com and Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff