In a Saturday night news dump, WPP announced that longtime CEO Martin Sorrell was stepping down, ending a 33-year career. While the timing was sudden (and perhaps calculated to limit immediate PR damage), his exit is not all that surprising. After all, Sorrell is 73-years-old, has been the subject of an internal probe for alleged misconduct and WPP has struggled financially in recent quarters. The company said Saturday the probe was over and “did not involve amounts that are material.”
Still, his departure sent shockwaves across the industry and will reverberate for years to come. Below, a look at how his exit was greeted on social media. One thing is clear: Sir Martin had plenty of admirers, but also no shortage of haters.
Sir Martin the first high profile walkout over the drinks trolley ban. How many more before WPP sees sense.
— Andy George (@_andygeorge) April 15, 2018
The man David Ogilvy once called an “odius little shit” steps down from WPP. #martinsorrell
— Esther Clerehan (@clerehan) April 14, 2018
London Briefing: The speed with which Sir Martin Sorrell, the world’s most powerful adman, has gone from hero to zero is quite breathtakinghttps://t.co/1RArT8Z7OX
— Irish Times Business (@IrishTimesBiz) April 14, 2018
Regardless of the reasons for his departure, Sir Martin Sorrell built up an incredible marketing/advertising/PR empire in WPP over 32 years employing 200k people in over 120 countries. WPP was a phenomenal barometer of global economic activity – He was an amazing entrepreneur!
— David Buik (@truemagic68) April 15, 2018
I doubt we will see the like of Martin Sorrell again. It took vision, risk, innovation, determination and energy to build a global leader. Some have some of those qualities; very few have all.
— Roland Rudd (@RolandRudd) April 14, 2018
The single-greatest influence driving my decisions of late are best summarized by this song:
Take The Money And Run by Steve Miller Bandhttps://t.co/5XVG2KHeDH
— Not Martin Sorrell (@NotSirSorrell) April 14, 2018
Sir Martin Sorrell resigns after the completion of the internal investigation but retains full retirement benefits? WPP chief Sir Martin Sorrell quits advertising agency https://t.co/sGZcFulQiA#corpgov#WPPpic.twitter.com/y9LztmjvOZ
— Fiona Hotston Moore (@hotstonmoore) April 15, 2018
“Beans and Pearls”, a seminal lecture delivered by Martin Sorrell to D&AD in 1996 placing creativity – in its widest sense – beyond just the creative teams in agencies, is worth reading anew, in full: https://t.co/iAiaY3SIRepic.twitter.com/2X96VQ19VT
— Rafat Ali رفعت (@rafat) April 15, 2018
Sir Martin Sorrell on Monday… pic.twitter.com/JMBnStOCKn
— Media Lad (@media_lad) April 14, 2018
For such an influential figure in advertising isn’t funny how Martin Sorrell is rarely quoted in the way that Bernbach and Ogilvy still are after all these years. #WPP
— Stanley Johnson (@BrandDNA) April 15, 2018
As for Sorrell himself, he was quiet on Twitter. Then again, he’s only tweeted twice in his life:
— Martin Sorrell (@martinsorrell) September 13, 2017
Very happy to be in the historic trading city of Cologne. A reminder of the value of strong partnerships with our European friends #dmexco
— Martin Sorrell (@martinsorrell) September 14, 2017