How else to judge his failed (open-) secret move for the most highly regarded French advertising executive in the world Jean-Marie Dru, the charming worldwide CEO of Omnicom's TBWA network? At least there was stability under the committed de Pouzilhac, who was leading Havas to recovery. Now, the group has an unsettling vacuum at the top, which gleeful rivals are already trying to exploit.
First out of the blocks - as ever - was WPP's Sir Martin Sorrell, the master of undermining his rivals. Sorrell praised Dru as "magnificent", and emphasised that the future of Havas is inextricably linked to the choice of future CEO. I'd love to know what Sorrell would have said if Dru had said "oui".
Actually, Dru is "magnificent". Perhaps not too well known in the insular UK market because he is a) French and b) now runs an American network, the confluence of those two facts alone mark him out as remarkable, particularly in the current global political climate.
But Dru is also one of the D's in the fabled BDDP, once considered the Saatchi & Saatchi of France when Saatchi & Saatchi was setting the Anglo-Saxon ad world alight. Now that agency is one of many subsumed into what is TBWA, which he has run with some success from both New York and Paris.
What's more, being French, he even had the nerve to publish not one but two books espousing a philosophy of advertising, Disruption. These books not only failed to bring the derision down on his head that a Brit adman would have had to endure, but even managed to sell a few copies.
Now, thanks to the considerable persuasive powers of the Omnicom CEO John Wren, who wooed Dru over a long lunch in Cannes (amazing how liberating that Domaine Ott rosé wine can be), Dru has certainly created considerable disruption at Havas, where Bolloré cannot have read his signed copy closely enough.
The Havas CEO position is even more tricky now. The next choice will always know that they were second on the list. And there are knock-on effects whichever way Bolloré turns. There are new internal French candidates to consider, but some might argue that Havas's Frenchness is a hindrance the American-dominated advertising arena.
Well, de Pouzilhac, Dru and Publicis Groupe's CEO Maurice Levy each disprove that. But the candidates do not appear to have that level of stature or international experience. They will still be miffed if they don't get asked, though. Then there is David Jones, the Brit CEO of Havas's Euro RSCG agency in New York, who is said to be ambitious for a larger stage.
Whatever happens, it is difficult to see how Havas is better off than it was before Bolloré deposed de Pouzilhac two weeks ago, nor when it will be. I guess much depends on who Bolloré throws his money at.
JUST WHEN YOU thought it could not get any worse, now the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) is to widen its investigation into the financial affairs of the InterPublic Group, which is postponing the announcement of its long-overdue results until the autumn. Now the chief financial officer is to leave. This only puts still more pressure on McCann-Erickson, Lowe, FCB and the group's other ad agencies and media companies, and particularly their client relationships and new-business prospects. It is time for some real and decisive private and public leadership from the new IPG boss Michael Roth, or Sir Martin Sorrell will be calling him "magnificent" soon.
FOR YEARS, MY wife had a 30-a-day habit that stopped neither for cancer warnings, nor the New York marathon. When we met, I told her "Snogging or smoking?" Surprisingly, she gave up overnight - and that, before she even knew if I was a sloppy kisser or not.
So, news that the new anti-smoking campaign is going to target teens by telling them it will harm their sex life makes a lot of sense. Death seems a lifetime away when you are a teen, but trying to get laid is today's matter in hand. Every day.
The writer is senior editor of Metro International and a former editor of Campaign
Talking of throwing money at a problem: £30m for VCCP? Blimey! Good on yer, Rooney.
Last week, Lord Bell's Chime Communications group paid this, um, surprisingly vast sum for the three-year-old agency, fronted by the former WCRS, BBH and FCB San Francisco creative director Rooney Carruthers. The green-eyed monster is still running amok on the streets of Soho.
I know Rooney, Charles Vallance, Adrian Coleman and Ben Priest haven't got all that dosh yet, but still, £3m upfront isn't to be sniffed at, especially not for such a young agency. And, especially not for an agency that is so heavily dependent on one client, O2 (Coca-Cola and Hyundai aside). Hot on the heels of Delaney Lund Knox Warren's £38m sale, it's enough to make any advertising person in London wonder what they are doing running on that hamster wheel to keep Wall Street, the Footsie and the Paris Bourse happy.
It seems a lot to pay from Chime's perspective, but Lord Bell's plans to diversify his marketing services portfolio made such an acquisition inevitably since selling HHCL to WPP. Even then, it still seems like a huge amount for an agency with a pre-tax profit of less than a million.
But, it doesn't pay to underestimate Lord Bell. To this day he remains - with Bill Muirhead, Maurice Saatchi, Frank Lowe and Robin Wight - among the finest account men London has ever seen, and he has built an exceptional PR-based group. We'll see if VCCP is merely good or if it really is £30m great.
As for Rooney Carruthers, serendipity's his middle name. He admits he came back from his brief sojourn in San Francisco with his tail between his legs. A brief period as a director followed, until the client offered him the 02 mobile phone account before VCCP even existed.
Still, he didn't fumble the pass, still has that account, built an agency and has cashed in, too. What's more, Chime isn't a gi-normous, faceless multi-national. For Britain's second most famous Rooney then, "the future's bright, the future's..." Oops, I forgot - that was from a rival's more famous campaign.Reuse content