Shamed advertising guru Sir Martin Sorrell has been dubbed “the Invisible Man” at Cannes Lions.
Once the most powerful big cat in the advertising industry, Sorrell has been in town for the festival but has mostly stayed out of sight.
Sorrell was pushed out of WPP last year after he was accused of using company money for prostitutes and acting like a bully. He denied the claims.
This Cannes Lions, Sorrell hasn’t been seen at a single session at Le Palais, while his successor as CEO at WPP Mark Read has been front and center at the festival, hosting conversations at the agency’s beach HQ with industry luminaries such as Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg.
Sorrell did pop up at Irish bar The Drum Arms in Cannes on Tuesday for an event with Accenture, but that seems to be it.
In fact Sorrell is so non grata, he failed to get an invite to the annual Viacom dinner Thursday – even though his wife Cristiana Falcone Sorrell is on the Viacom board – and his team had to call to lobby for him to be added to the exec-heavy list. He did attend in the end.
A source told Page Six, “Martin was the most important man in the ad world. Now he’s on the fringe and is being dubbed ‘The Invisible Man by other execs at Cannes Lions. He was famed for being rude and disdainful – and now karma is a bitch”
Sorrell, who touted his new company S4 Capital at last year’s Cannes Lions – is due to appear at le Palais on Friday, seen as the camel’s derrière of the festival, because many bigwigs and delegates are too partied out or on a plane home.
But he’s hardly the main draw and, rather than speaking himself, he is instead interviewing the CEO of Burning Man Marian Goodell.
When reached for comment Thursday night, Sorrell responded grumpily, “You seem to be misinformed. I’m actually sitting at the dinner you refer to.”
After we clarified that he wasn’t originally invited to the Viacom dinner and had to plead to be added to the list, the man formerly known as “the shortest knight” (because of his height) huffed, “Not true, as far as I’m aware. You seem to know better.”
A rep for Viacom didn’t comment, despite repeated requests to do so.
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