WPP's Sorrell Says Publicis's Levy Is "Hysterically Funny''

Last Updated Feb 2, 2009 6:38 PM EST

WPP chief Martin Sorrell continued his entertaining spat with Publicis boss Maurice Levy at Davos this week. In an interview with the Independent, Sorrell said his French rival tends to "lose it" and is "hysterically funny" when he does so:

martinsorrell_photo111.jpgMaurice Levy tends to lose it on many occasions. He lost it last year at Davos in the session we did on the American president where he said -- hysterically funny -- he said you can't market a country. Now I've seen he's saying you can do it. I've seen him lose his rag before at Davos at a private dinner. He tends to lose his cool."

In the middle of January Levy had said that Sorrell was "a little Englishman trying to stir things up." Here's the previous history of slaps:

In December the pair were the subject of a Bloomberg story that tracked their catfight.

The WPP chief executive criticized Publicis earlier this year [in 2008] for the Google partnership, implying that Levy, the board chairman and also a trained engineer, had "a bit of an Achilles' heel" when it came to technical matters.

... Levy says Sorrell "recognized now that he's been totally wrong" and is now "following us on all of our steps."

And Sorrell suggested in November that Publicis would be better off merged with IPG, and Levy shot back that Sorrell ought to pay attention to his profit margins.

One other note. Here's Sorrell's take on Rupert Murdoch:

Murdoch is also "counter-intuitive", he notes. "When others are cutting, he's investing. Everybody thought he was going to cut at The Wall Street Journal, but my sense is that he's investing in editorial now. I do think there's a lot of statistical evidence to show that people who innovate and brand in a recession come out of it faster and stronger."
Murdoch is not in fact investing at the Journal. There's been a hiring freeze on there for months and layoffs are coming, according to Portfolio.