April 16, 2007

Adapt and survive: Sir Martin Sorrell

22nd March: The WPP CEO set out to define the 2 major changes- and challenges- facing media-owners and agencies, in a video-link address to the SHOTS forum.

The first is one of geography- with mushrooming populations in the east, companies in these locations have massive subscription bases and influence (China Mobile alone has 300 million subscribers)- he pointed out that this in itself is not a problem, as long as projects are run efficiently.

The second, larger, challenge lies in embracing new technology. Sir Martin spoke frankly about this: “…there has to be a shift, and it has to be a very rapid shift amongst the agencies to embrace new media.” He argued that companies that fail to do this will lose out “the more established you are, the worse it is or the more difficult it is to deal with. The companies that start with no legacy systems, with no history, that start with a clean sheet of paper, are clearly advantaged in dealing with the issue of technology.”

Rousing talk of young, aggressive, hungry agencies that work comfortably with new technologies showed respect for the growing influence and usefulness of digital agencies. He was confident that moving with the times will reap its rewards too, “Wherever the Internet advertising is it’s 6 to 7 % of the worldwide market, 5 or 10 years ago it was zero, and our view is – you want my view? It’s 20% of our business now, it’s gonna be a third of our business in fairly short order.”