Interview with WPP founder and CEO, Sir Martin Sorrell

Martin Sorrell Interview Thomas Crampton
Stream Asia 2013

Are there any other areas for growth you would highlight.

Well the areas are; the fast growing markets, the digital pieces of which social is a part.

A leading part.

Well I think to be fair Thomas, one has to say there are five. There is search, there is display, there is social, there is video and last but not least there is mobile. And of course social straddles, in a sense, all of them. So you could say the most important part.

Then big data and the application of technology to our business. So really understanding that increasingly we are not a technology originator but we apply technology in an effective way.

So Xasis, which is our online media-buying platform is a phenomenal example of that.
Where we have brought a company for 24/7 real media, taken their technology and applied it to business. It’s a tremendous growth opportunity for us.

So I think increasingly finding those sort of things and also getting closer to the CIOs.

Who is the client of WPP?

Well it is the CEO, the CMO, and now the CIO.

They are all in the mix now.

And the Procurement Head.

Most important, the guy who signs the contract.

In various companies the procurement people will either be in control or a support function. But balancing that act is very difficult. Companies change over time, one year the CMO might be in the ascendancy, then the CFO. But by and large, I think at the moment particularly post September 2008 the finance procurement has got too much power.

Okay, finally looking at Facebook, Twitter and Google how would you interpret these mediums, how would you simplify them.

Well Google is phenomenally powerful. It is the elephant in the room and there are only two things in my mind that could stop Google. One is size, which is an issue they have to deal with. It gets more difficult the bigger you get, with the market cap revenues and profits whatever it is.

Then the second thing is the regulator, but they have handled the regulator brilliantly in America and it sounds to me as though they will do a very good job in Europe so that doesn’t seem to keep them in check.

So I’d be very bullish on Google and I’d be very bullish on Amazon. Jeff Bezos is not subject to the quarterly controls that other people have in competition with him, so he’s in a strong position.

Apple, I think it depends on what they do with their next big innovation and if the Apple TV does come along and it is a big opportunity for them. If you look at the history – Walter Isaac’s book on Steve Jobs. Every three years they came out with something big, you know it wasn’t a bigger iPad or a smaller iPad, it was a disruptive.
So Apple TV I think is absolutely critical from that point of view.

Facebook will continue. but they just have to relax and it will be fine.

And in terms of what the medium is useful for.

Facebook to my mind is a branding medium. Which means from a social point of view, it is ideal. You can communicate with a billion people and probably it will be the biggest country on the planet. It is now third largest so it is phenomenally powerful. You can’t nix that and it’s just the pressure of the IPO and the investment bankers and the institutional brokers and the need to get quarterly performance of revenues.

Google is everything to my mind; it is a five-legged stool in all the five areas we have just gone through.

Twitter is a PR medium and people get very upset about that. Twitter are trying to monetize that in various ways and they may or may not be able to do that. But then again to my mind it is a very powerful PR medium.

I mean look at the Olympics, as you know, we watched the trends on Twitter and it was the most effective medium, online medium, around the Games.

Facebook didn’t have that much prominence from what I saw, even Google; it was Twitter that everyone was following during the Olympic Games.

Super Bowl, there was also a large hit on Twitter.

Absolutely or The Oscars. Just recently on Formula One. I am on the board of Formula One but I think Formula One should be more effective. When Formula One moved its business to Sky you instantly got better online and offline coverage. So you can do a tremendous amount. The London Olympics I think was the first real online Games, real digital Games, you know Beijing talked about it..

I think if you look at every statistic, no matter what the statistic is, for say the Super Bowl this year, I think it is up two to four times , the coverage, the tweets, on last year.

Thank you very much Thomas, as always, great stuff.

There are no comments

Add yours