Friday, June 20, 2008

The Advert WPP Must Hope You Will Never See

Today's FT has a story that I find shocking in the extreme. The Company working to keep Robert Mugabe in power in Zimbabwe is part of Martin Sorrell's WPP Group! At first I thought this must be a smear as the implications are so bad for his business. However, WPP have been forced to admit to the FT that it is true, and that the company behind Mugabe's adverts that have incited the murder of 80 opposition campaigners is indeed part of the Young and Rubicam Group that WPP owns.

In a clear attempt to head of a massive storm, Sorrell says that he will divest his company of their interests in Zimbabwe. This is rather too late for the 80 dead, and thousands who have been tortured by Mugabe's thugs.

Mr Sorrell says that he didn't know that his company was working for Mugabe. This leaves some very interesting questions that he will need to answer today. For a start, I have looked at the WPP Website. It lists the countries where they do business around the world - yet fails to mention Zimbabwe. If they didn't think they were doing anything wrong - why did they hide that they were there? I also see from statements in the Zimbabwe press that the lady who runs the company for Mr Sorrell is called Sharyn Mugabe. Mugabe is not exactly a common name, and yet it didn't seem to raise any alarm bells with WPP.

The most important question now is what will WPP do to put right this terrible wrong. If they genuinely are sorry, they will announce today that every penny they have received from their immoral business is to be donated to help the victims of Mugabe's reign of terror? WPP has blood on its hands - I just wonder how many other international companies have also been making money propping up this immoral regime.


Shaun said...

They need to, very publicly, hire an A-Team-esque group of mercenaries to blow Mugabe's ass away. Until that happens, I may not really want to hear about them selling me some new kind of toilet paper...

Anonymous said...

Gotta be a "Gerald Ratner moment".

Alex said...

WPP have 7 subsidiaries in Harare:

Anonymous said...

On the day a brave soldier was laid to rest in Sunderland. As a father of a soldier I would like to repeat:-

'Are we fighting a war on terror or aren't we?
Was it or was it not started by Islamic people who
brought it to our shores on September 11, 2001 and have
continually threatened to do so since?

Were people from all over the world, not
brutally murdered that day, in downtown Manhattan, across the
Potomac from the nation's capitol and in a field in

Did nearly three thousand men, women and
children die a horrible, burning or crushing death that day,
or didn't they?

And I'm supposed to care that a a few Taliban
were claiming to be tortured by a justice system of
the nation they come from and are fighting against in a
brutal insurgency.

I'll start caring when Osama bin Laden turns
himself in and repents for incinerating all those
innocent people on 9/11.

I'll care about the Koran when the fanatics in
the Middle East start caring about the Holy Bible, the
mere belief of which is a crime punishable by beheading in

I'll care when these thugs tell the world they
are sorry for hacking off Nick Berg's head while Berg
screamed through his gurgling slashed throat.

I'll care when the cowardly so-called
'insurgents' in Afghanistan come out and fight like men
instead of disrespecting their own religion by hiding in

I'll care when the mindless zealots who blows
themselves up in search of nirvana care about the
innocent children within range of their suicide bombs.

I'll care when the Canadian media stops
pretending that their freedom of speech on stories is more
important than the lives of the soldiers on the ground or
their families waiting a home to hear about them when
something happens.

In the meantime, when I hear a story about a
CANADIAN soldier roughing up an Insurgent terrorist to
obtain information, know this:

I don't care.

When I see a wounded terrorist get shot in the
head when he is told not to move because he might be
booby-trapped, you can take it to the bank:

I don't care.

When I hear that a prisoner, who was issued a
Koran and a prayer mat, and fed 'special' food that is
paid for by my tax dollars, is complaining that his holy book
is being 'mishandled,' you can absolutely believe in
your heart of hearts:

I don't care.

And oh, by the way, I've noticed that
sometimes it's spelled 'Koran' and other times 'Quran.'
Well, Jimmy Crack Corn you guessed it,

I don't care!!

If you don't agree, then
please don't complain when more atrocities committed by
radical Muslims happen here in our great Country! And may I

'Some people spend an entire lifetime
wondering if they made a difference in the world. But, the
Soldiers don't have that problem.'

I have another quote that I would like to add
AND.......I hope you forward all this.

One last thought for the day:

Only Six defining forces have ever offered
to die for you:

1. Jesus Christ

2. The Canadian Soldier.

3. The British Soldier.

4. The US Soldier

5. The Australian Soldier

6. The New Zealand Soldier

One died for your soul, the others for your

In fact there was more! FREEDOM with the former GREAT BRITISH EMPIRE!

Anonymous said...

the British Government should make it illegal for any companies to do business with or in Zim immediately.

Quite frankly, I can't believe it's not already.

Anonymous said...

You level of shock surprises me, yet again. Did you not imagine that there are hundreds of companies out there fawning over Mugabe? Did it surprise you to find that on November 11th 2007 The Times reported that:

"BARCLAYS is bankrolling President Robert Mugabe’s corrupt regime in Zimbabwe by providing substantial loans to cronies given land seized from white farmers.

The British bank lent £750m to the country’s new landowning elite in the first half of this year, mostly through a government scheme to boost farm productivity. "

Well done for continuing to highlight Western complicity in this evil regime, but, there are bigger fish to fry.

Anonymous said...

anon @ 6:29

I agree with everything you have stated and quoted, but can you add South Africa to those nations that lost sons in WWI and WWII for this freedom. Oh, and in Korea too.

Look up "Delville Wood" sometime...

Anonymous said...

Oh grow up Ian, you are getting as bad as our UK Goverment's thought police.

Why all this anti Mugabe stuff when the British Government will not hold a General election and its leader is unelected?

How can Europe condemn Mugabe for not accepting a democratic vote when they say European people have voted wrongly?

Anonymous said...

How is your indignation going to stop China saying "thankyou very much" and having access to Zimbabwe's natural resources?

Can't see how Europe and GB can crow on about democracy and freedom after recent undecromatic events in their own affairs.

Unsworth said...

I dunno what you're shocked about, Iain. This is business, innit?

Since when did Sorrell and his henchpersons worry about 'ethics', eh?

Sorrell didn't know about his company's involvement with Mugabe? Don't make me laugh...

And it's actually Sharon, not Sharyn. She's been around for a while in various 'communications' posts, including - conveniently - banking.

Anonymous said...

Strip Sorrell of his knighthood tomorrow and tell the entire board of Barclays Bank that there are no knighthoods, peerages or minor gongs for any one of them until they pull out of Zim. Then they can go home and tell their wives.

Anonymous said...

By far the smartest - therefore London won't do it because Brown and all those interchangeable NuLab ministers are too stupid - route is to have a rapprochement with the Chinese.

Very delicate and would take great skill and months of drinking green tea, but, if done properly (so that lets this government out) could work. But you wouldn't want this lot to try it because they would bugger up the entire continent for generations.

Praguetory said...

Unfortunately this post shows a lamentable misunderstanding of the WPP business model. They acquire, acquire and acquire. I've known many WPP staff who don't even know which of their competitors are actually part of the WPP group.

Tapestry said...

Talk to Siemens about the Nazis, and about 1000 other companies around the world who make or made money from genocide.

War is a business. Politics is a business. Only a few idealistic nutters that populate blogs such as this don't seem to realise (I include myself).

90% of humanity follows the rule - if it makes money, do it. And who cares how, as long as my bank account gets fatter.

If you want to stop Mugabe, campaign for a coup, and assist its financing. Where's Mark Thatcher when you need him?

Mugabe will find someone else to make his leaflets easily enough.

Gege said...

It doesn't surprise me.

We in the west often pontificate about corruption in Africa. However, it often turns out that we are active collaborators.

Brian said...

Are you going to enquire about Charles Davy's business links with the Mugabe regime - it might delay your invitation to the Royal Box at Ascot.
Peter Oborne wrote a piece in the Sectator:

Anonymous said...

I think the Commonwealth of many hues provided cannon fodder in various Wars and definitely not just those with a white skin. Your post comes over as a naive and racist rant.

Anonymous said...

Impact font on their election literature? I knew things in Zimbabwe were dire but I never knew it was that bad.

Anonymous said...

Private Eye already covered this some months ago - it isn't a new story by you Iain, although I agree with your sentiments 100%.

Many companies, particularly Chinese ones, have been helping Mugabe. Some of these doubtless have British involvement.

On the subject of deception, there seems to be some kind of wierd deceit going on at Sky News today. They are giving top story status to the non-story of Naomi Cambell accusing BA of racism, yawn, which has already been covered and dismissed elsewhere. Yet strangely, there is no mention whatever of Sky News journalist Kay Burley apparently grasping the throat of an AP news cameragirl, something all the other media are covering today. Is Murdoch's machine up to it's usual tricks? Perhaps Robert Mugabe should get in touch with Sky with a view to hiring them as his PR group, they are obviously good at this sort of thing.

Anonymous said...

I hope it will be remembered that one major factor/section of the anti Mugabe movement in Zimbabwe are the trade unions.

I really wish Conservatives would stop knocking them

I look forward to an improved relationship

already many Conservative MPs have been working with health workers trade unions like UNISON to defend local services, even shadow cabinet ministers like Chris Grayling etc

Victory to the MDC and Zimbabwe trade unions

Anonymous said...

I would prefer that we take Brown & Co round the throat and save British freedoms and British democracy. Chattering about how we should save Zimbabwe when we've got our own country to save is so last century.

As someone mentioned above, the EUSSR has castigated the Irish for voting the wrong way. They are already having emergency meetings (and doubtless lavish expense account lunches)to solve "the Irish problem".

Three middle aged professional people protesting the development of a new runway narrowly escaped arrest when some gimlet-eyed apparachik decided the message on their T-shirts was "too inflamatory". My God, some little unelected, power-crazed servant of the state is up on his hind legs monitoring messages on T-shirts at home and you are going to change the fortunes of Zimbabwe?

The licenced paedophiles in the British state school system, having noted that around 3,000 underaged girls had abortions last year - the grimmest record in Europe - has decided that forced "sex education" (i.e. anti-family propaganda) is now to be force fed in schools to little five-year old children. Perhaps they failed to meet their Home Office-determined child abortion targets last year. Who knows?

And you think we should get busy in Zimbabwe?

The police are hanging on to the DNA of people not found guilty of any crime.

Adherence to the belief system of Islam has been reclassified as a genetic condition so that people expressing dislike of it can be charged with "racism".

I think if you're looking for something to fix, you should look closer to home.

Anonymous said...

Iain, they do list seven offices in Zimbabwe on their website. I don't know whether they might have recently added it, but it's certainly there.

Anonymous said...

Verity said ..."I think if you're looking for something to fix, you should look closer to home."

I think you should stay in Mexico.

"Three middle aged professional people protesting the development of a new runway narrowly escaped arrest ..."

They didn't narrowly escape arrest. They were told that by exhibiting anti-Heathrow slogans within one of the airport buildings they were contravening airport by-laws. They were told that if they wanted to demonstrate they should do so outside the building.

It is likely that every airport in the world has similar by-laws.

Anonymous said...

From their website: WPP and its operating companies have as their core values honesty, integrity and respect for people. These core values determine the way we approach business and they define the principles in which we expect our people to behave in the conduct of our business.

AVI said...

I remain unconvinced by the idea that we should make trading with another party illegal, or that it should be stopped, juts because some bystander says "I don't approve" or "it's immoral".

Who are you, and who are we, to say what is or isn't right? If no-one can trade with Zimbabwe because Mugabe's regime is immoral, can we also say that no-one should trade with abortionists, because they are immoral, or non-free-range-chicken-farmers, because they are immoral? So many things we do are argued to be immoral by one group or another - so who decides what is and what isn't?

WPP should be permitted to trade with whosoever they wish. One would hope that they would wish not to run the risk of sullying their brand with a reputation for working for folk like Mugabe, but if they do, they will pay the price for it in the wider market. That is the price they should pay, and it is a judgement call for them to make, not us.