Media Medium
5 September 2001


The age of Aquarius

WPP chief Sir Martin Sorrell has created a stir in the international
advertising world with his bid for Tempus - par for the course
for his cool, calculating Aquarian nature

A good Aquarian's task in life is to rock boats, and WPP's chief executive, Sir Martin Sorrell (February 14 1945) doesn't disappoint. He has created a stir amongst the international advertising and media service giants with a bid for Tempus, trumping the offer from the French company Havas. Since WPP already holds 22 percent of the Tempus shares, speculation is rife that Sorrell is actually hoping that a successful Havas counter-bid will push up the Tempus share price and the value of the WPP holding. His real target, so the thinking goes, is Aegis, a more significant player, three times the size of Tempus.

All of which is par for the course for Sorrell's cool, calculating Aquarian nature. A key to the Water Carrier's character is that nothing is personal. Egos may get punctured en route, but once a course of action has been decided, an Aquarian does whatever is necessary and keeps focused on essentials. Sorrell's ingenuity shows in Mercury, planet of trade, which is also in the sign of Aquarius, closely linked with independent Uranus. This suggests a brilliant poker player, superb at setting up smart, win-win deals, but with an occasional touch of the absent-minded professor. The Mercury-Uranus connection makes a person " very clever in certain special directions ... other matters, outside the range of his interests, often do not enter his vision at all; he is indifferent to them, and may seem very stupid in relation to them. " (Astrological Aspects, Charles Carter).

Like many Aquarians, Sorrell is likely to be dogmatic and insistent on doing his own thing, in his own way, in his own time: " independent, sensitive, proud, and sometimes secretive... the native almost always lives his own life and resents interference very fiercely." (Carter)

But Mercury is also a planet of mischief and with no love lost between Sorrell and Doug Flynn, the Tempus CEO, Sorrell undoubtedly enjoys keeping the Tempus board on its toes. There is little in the stars to connect the two outfits now, and the astrology bears out the view of City cynics who think the bid is a ploy. Tempus does appear to be heading for a major shake-up, especially next February, due to the movement of its own revolutionary, independent Uranus into the sign of Sagittarius. However, since this sign is associated with foreign connections, a foreign-based buyer such as Havas makes more symbolic sense than a WPP take-over.

On the surface, then, Sorrell's masterplan is about to fall into place, and with a high price for WPP's share of Tempus, he looks all set for discussions with Aegis. The horoscopes of WPP and Aegis are a likely match, and Sorrell would find it easy to work with the Aegis team.

But there's a Jack in this Box. The current downturn in advertising is symbolised by Saturn's opposition to Pluto in the sky now. This was exact on August 5 and it is repeated on November 2. It occurs again next year on May 26. This Saturn- Pluto opposition is about to land on the Aegis horoscope like a ton of bricks, and the end of November is an especially critical period.

So Aegis may not prove to be quite the attractive proposition that Sorrell thinks it is, and ironically Tempus, although erratic, could do a lot better. If he really wants Aegis, Sorrell should play a long game and watch closely how the Company bears up under the strain of the coming months. Yet as an Aquarian, insistent on doing things his way, he's unlikely to take kindly to advice from astrology.

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