Madonna divorce leaves media cold

In PR terms it was the cleanest possible break. Whatever the personal acrimonies, Madonna, Guy Ritchie and their teams achieved the near impossible in terms of high-profile divorce.

Ian Monk
Ian Monk

They tied up a settlement that left scarcely a crumb of rancour or dissent for the tabloid gossip hounds to feed on.

Unlike the spectacular comms mess that characterised the McCartney-Mills divorce, Madonna and Guy kept their pre-decree manoeuvrings far ahead of the media curve. From the moment the news of the decision to divorce was strategically leaked to The Sun newspaper right up to the announcement of the settlement, the PR and legal teams dictated the agenda. And they kept it under wraps from the media until the optimum moments at which to break cover.

Again, unlike the Mucca v Macca imbroglio, no substantial word of any rows that preceded the agreements was ever leaked out. In fact, apart from a few raised finger gestures from Madonna, the media were bereft of statements or insinuations beyond the salient facts assuredly placed before them by both sides.

Of course, a key factor in the media operation was that neither of the parties shared the erratic behaviour patterns of Heather Mills-McCartney. And of course, for all Madonna's global fame, neither enjoyed the legend-beyond-reproof status accorded to McCartney as a former Beatle.

However, also intrinsic to a smart media-handling operation was a demonstrable ability of the comms and legal teams to work to a consistent brief without apparently allowing any part of the media to place a paper between their clients' aims and strategies.

Contrast this with the public tantrums and dramas of the McCartney-Mills split, with both sides competing in pouring bilious leaks into the ears of favoured editors and columnists.

With the Bernie Ecclestone multibillion-pound divorce next on the grid, a hungry media will be hoping for a rerun of McCartney-Mills rather than Madonna-Ritchie.

- Ian Monk is founder of Ian Monk Associates and a former executive at the Daily Mail and The Sun.

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