It seems to have been a bad week for short men. First Sir Martin Sorrell falls on the WPP sword but leaves us with the intriguing Doc Emmett Brown line that he was going "back to the future", while MullenLowe London’s Dale Gall quits the agency – and the industry – claiming that it was an "accident" he got into it in the first place.
(Incidentally, at a towering 5’8", I’ve also found myself looking over my shoulder.)
While both may have been diminutive they also made a big impact, in their own respective ways. Sorrell’s legacy is clear – and much more will be written about this and what happens next over the coming weeks and months. Gall, a combative, slightly prickly character but not without charm and capability (sound familiar?), also bequeaths an agency to his successor – the obscure Jeremy Hine – that is in better shape than when he found it.
Having successfully managed to create a coherent offering in the MullenLowe London outpost, which once appeared to be a constant headache for IPG management, by bundling its component parts he has decided to leave. Insiders say that the decision was his and his alone – and there’s no reason to doubt that. Reporting to holding company bosses isn’t to everyone’s taste and there’s probably only so long you can do it. And having successfully been involved in two earn-outs he probably doesn’t need the money or the stress.
Gall would be the first to admit that he’s made a few enemies along the way (and, like Sorrell, he probably doesn’t care either way). The way that so many former long-serving and loyal former DLKW Lowe staff exited within weeks of Gall being made chief executive looked less like a bloodletting and more like a bloodbath. Was this necessary? Well maybe – but it all looked a bit ugly to see brilliant planners like Charlie Snow disappear from the frontline and the intangible specialness of the now defunct DLKW vanish.
As for his successor, Hine is said to be better equipped at bringing the crowd along with him – having worked within the Lowe network in a variety of roles for two decades he knows the organisation inside out and has handled its key clients. The hackneyed journalistic expression – "a safe pair of hands" – is probably apposite.
So his hands maybe safe but what of the size of his feet (to torture the metaphor further)? Whatever you think of Gall his small feet occupied disproportionately big boots. The acquisition of 101 was a good move and with all the internal structures sorted out Hine may not need to dole out the proverbial kickings that Gall did.
Jeremy Lee is a contributing editor at Campaign