Home » NEWS » Arts & Entertainment » TODD SMITH — Former WPP head Martin Sorrell plans new ad empire

TODD SMITH — Former WPP head Martin Sorrell plans new ad empire

TODD SMITH

Former WPP CEO Martin Sorrell – one of the most innovative ad moguls of our time, who crashed amid a misconduct scandal – is prepping to launch a new branding empire.

Recently, Sorrell announced plans to build a new advertising, marketing services and ad-tech company.

Derriston Capital, a British firm whose website says it was created “to consider opportunities within the global medical technology industry,” reached an agreement to acquire S4 Capital, an investment vehicle backed by Sorrell, \a Derriston spokesman said to AdAge. S4 Capital was set up with $53.4 million of Sorrell’s own money and $14.7 million from institutional investors.

A spokesman for Sorrell said via email “we are not commenting on market speculation.”

The news of Sorrell’s move was first reported by Sky News.

The acquisition will be treated as a reverse takeover, which will involve Derriston changing its name and becoming S4 Capital Plc. Sorrell will become the entity’s executive chairman.

S4 will be a vehicle to create a global advertising, marketing services and ad-tech company by acquisition, the Derriston spokesman said. The news comes a month-and-a-half after Sorrell stepped down as CEO of WPP following an internal investigation into misconduct, ending a 33-year career at the world’s largest agency holding company.

Earlier in May, he said at a conference in New York he doesn’t plan to go into “voluntary or involuntary retirement” and plans to “start again.”

Roseanne Barr brand crashes, burns

Just months after Roseanne Barr vaulted to stardom again and her show became the biggest new sitcom of the year for ABC, it all came crashing down in flames after and incendiary and racist tweet.

Her sitcom “Roseanne” returned in March after a two-decade absence to enormous ratings on ABC. Network executives were celebrating their strategy of appealing to wider swaths of the country after Donald J. Trump’s surprising election win and the president himself called Ms. Barr to congratulate her on the show’s large audience.

But last week, that all came crashing down. ABC abruptly canceled “Roseanne” hours after Barr, the show’s star and co-creator, posted a racist tweet about Valerie Jarrett, an African-American woman who was a senior adviser to Barack Obama throughout his presidency and considered one of his most influential aides. Barr wrote if the “muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj.”

Barr later apologized, but it was too late. In announcing the show’s cancellation, ABC’s entertainment president, Channing Dungey, said in a statement that “Roseanne’s Twitter statement is abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values.”

Barr has suffered from self-inflicted wounds her entire career, but this may kill her reputation – and brand – forever!

Atari, Intellivision reboot with retro games

The retro video game trend is gaining extra life.

Just as a rebooted Atari began taking preorders Wednesday for a modern version of its classic ‘70s video game system, Atari’s old rival Intellivision started to re-emerge, according to USA TODAY.

Both are the latest veteran names to join in on the retro video gaming movement.

Nintendo jump-started the trend with the limited release two years ago of its NES Classic, a miniaturized $60 plug-and-play clone of the 1985 system with 30 on-board games including Super Mario Bros. and Donkey Kong

Atari is planning to release its VCS system in spring 2019 but began taking preorders on Wednesday on Indiegogo.com (prices starting at $199). Among the classic games that will be preloaded on the system: Asteroids, Centipede and Missile Command.

Intellivision did not say what games would be playable or whether they would be modern-day resurrections of classics such as Armor Battle and Utopia on its rebooted system.

In interviews, officials said there would be 10 games available at launch, and consumers can download games onto an SD memory card. Details about the console will be released Oct. 1.

Caffeinated Mic | Starbucks sensitivity training

For reputation repair, Starbucks’ recent shutting down of 8,000 stores across North America to train some 175,000 employees about racial insensitivity may be considered a Chai Crème Frappuccino Blended Crème for its brand.

In the golden rule of crisis communications, the coffee king admitted its egregious mistake and announced what it was going to do to fix the situation.

The mistake: an incident that happened in April and prompted this “emergency training.” Two African-American men were wrongly arrested, for the crime of nothing more than just sitting in a Starbucks. When the manager asked them to leave because they weren’t buying anything, they said that they were waiting for a colleague to arrive. Not satisfied by their explanation, the manager called the police and had them arrested, which began a PR crisis for the entire company.

Starbucks responded quickly – one of the tenets of effective crisis management – with a sincere apology and a plan to respond to the incident, which included the closing of its stores for the training.

And it put its money where its mouth is! The training cost the company an estimated $12 million+ in lost profit alone.

Howard Schultz, Starbucks’ chairman, realizes that a four-hour training session on racial bias is not the final answer. But, it is a start – and a good start. In Schultz’s words: “We realize that four hours of training is not going to solve racial inequity… but we have to start the conversation.” The message is clear. Starbucks wants to be inclusive and create a safe environment for its customers regardless of race, religion, etc. It wants to be a part of its customers’ lives, and that can’t happen unless everyone feels comfortable and appreciated.

The training was video-based. After watching videos, managers facilitated discussions around the topic. Next steps in the plan are to have follow-up discussions and training on the topic. In other words, this is not “one and done.” It’s an ongoing effort to keep the topic at the forefront for employees and consumers alike.

In addition employees were shown a documentary film on public racial discrimination, You’re Welcome, by award-winning filmmaker Stanley Nelson, which was commissioned by Starbucks, although the company didn’t have editorial input.

Starbucks’ PR crisis, and its swift and apparently sincere response could create positive changes for many companies throughout the country, and maybe even across the globe.

» TODD SMITH is president and chief communications officer of Deane, Smith & Partners, a full-service branding, PR, marketing and advertising firm with offices in Jackson. The firm — based in Nashville, Tenn. — is also affiliated with Mad Genius. Contact him at todd@deanesmithpartners.com, and follow him @spinsurgeon.

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