MASTERCLASSING

Sir Martin Sorrell: "Move Into Digital as Fast as You Can"

Tim Maytom

Sorrell at Ad Week EU 16Sir Martin Sorrell, CEO of WPP, took to the stage at Advertising Week Europe last night to discuss the industry's approach to digital and mobile, as well as touching on a wide variety of subjects from the Brexit vote to his own pay.

"The first thing we do is, we say to our legacy businesses, 'Move into digital as fast as you can'," said Sorrell, discussing how agencies can adapt to the changing face of advertising and the sluggish economy. "That doesn't mean they don't have anything there already, but we say 'Move faster'. To the digital businesses, we say 'Move faster, globalise faster'."

Sorrell also discussed Mark Meeker's annual report on internet trends, and dug into the disparity between time spent on different forms of media and the advertising spend on them, in particular the apparent underspend on mobile, overspend on print and growing gap in linear television.

"Traditional print newspapers, the picture looks bleak, to put it mildly. Linear TV, it's the first time we're seeing discontinuity. If the gap has got wider [this year], there's a question about what's going to happen to network television.

"We haven't contextualised mobile as much as we should. The small screen has not become a screen that agencies have become comfortable with. We don't do the targeting as well as we should, and the potential is certainly there, and we don't do the creative as well as we should."

In his interview with Ian King of Sky News, Sorrell discussed a wide range of topics, including giving his views on the upcoming presidential election in the USA, which he predicts will see Hilary Clinton victorious, and the Brexit vote, which he believes will result in the UK staying within the EU.

"I am fervently of the view that immigrants add to the wealth of the country, they don't diminish it," said Sorrell, addressing one of the arguments made in favour of leaving the EU. "My grandparents came from the Ukraine and Poland, so it's a highly emotive subject for me. What's happening in Syria is in many respects the same as what happened in Nazi Germany."

Sorrell also briefly addressed his own pay packet, suspected to be in the region of £70m, arguing that his efforts in building WPP into a £21bn business over the course of 31 years from its beginning as a wire and plastics firm worth £1m merited his pay cheque.

"I have taken a significant degree of risk. [WPP] is where my wealth is. It is long effort over a long period of time. If there is a problem, it is that the market capitalisation has grown from £8bn to £20bn. If there is a problem it is that we have been successful. I don’t like the word pay, it is reward for performance with risk attached.”

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