Senior ad and media figures absent from Trump business banquet

Donald Trump: first visit to the UK since his inauguration as US president in 2017
Donald Trump: first visit to the UK since his inauguration as US president in 2017

The likes of WPP, Google and Sir Martin Sorrell were all absent as 150 UK business leaders got the chance to rub shoulders with US president Donald Trump at Blenheim Palace last night.

WPP’s US activities account for just over a third of its overall revenues, but recently-installed executive chairman Roberto Quarta was unable to take up his invitation to the dinner, due to travel commitments in Asia, according to a company spokesman.

Former WPP chief Sorrell was also busy elsewhere (though it’s not clear whether he was invited to Blenheim), keeping company with Jeff Bezos and Rupert Murdoch this week at the exclusive Sun Valley media business conference hosted by US investment bank Allen & Co.

Facebook told Campaign this morning that Steve Hatch, its regional director for Northern Europe did not attend, despite the BBC website reporting yesterday that he would be going. Facebook's spokesman declined to answer when asked whether any other Facebook staff attended. 

It is understood that no one from Google was due to attend and that nobody from Murdoch's newspaper business News UK, which is headed by chief executive Rebekah Brooks, went. 

Murdoch takeover target Sky, which ultimately looks set to fall into the hands of one of the US media giants Comcast and Disney, perhaps surprisingly had no directors attending last night. Nor did ITV, which is often rumoured to be in the sights of acquisitive US content firm.

Most companies that indicated their non-attendance declined to clarify whether or not they were invited. 

The dinner, which was hosted by Prime Minister Theresa May, was due to be attended by UK business leaders such as Paul Polman of Unilever, Emma Walmsley of GlaxoSmithKline and Richard Gnodde, chief executive of Goldman Sachs International.

Martha Lane-Fox, co-founder of and a digital tsar for the government, was one invitee who snubbed the event, saying last week: "I understand why the government have to entertain Trump but I certainly don’t want to."

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