Tuesday 18 June 2019 6:33 pm

Sir Martin Sorrell: Traditional agency model is ‘not fit for purpose’


Reporter covering media, telecoms and marketing. Get in touch at james.warrington@cityam.com

Reporter covering media, telecoms and marketing. Get in touch at james.warrington@cityam.com

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Former WPP boss Sir Martin Sorrell has launched yet another attack on his old firm, saying traditional ad agencies are “not fit for purpose” and must go private to survive.

Speaking at the Cannes Lions festival today, Sorrell said the industry has to change if it is to adapt to increased competition and a new focus on digital, data-driven marketing.

Read more: Sorrell poaches two former WPP executives for new venture S4 Capital

“We are able to do it as we are starting from scratch,” he said. “But the existing players are going to have a very tough time as listed companies to change as rapidly as they possibly can.”

The outspoken ad boss, who last year set up advertising firm S4 Capital, also suggested agencies such as WPP would not be able to change if they remained publicly-listed companies.

“It’s not about evolution, it’s about revolution,” he said. “I think you can only do it in private; I don’t think you can do it in public.”

Sorrell has been embroiled in a public dispute with WPP since his abrupt departure last year amid allegations of misconduct. The ad boss has always denied any wrongdoing.

Last week Sorrell tapped an ex-WPP executive – Scott Spirit – to join S4 Capital, in the latest sign of tensions with his former firm.

Read more: S4 Capital boss Sir Martin Sorrell faces investor revolt

In its only sign of retaliation to date, WPP last year threatened to cut Sorrell’s bonus, but relented this year and paid out an initial instalment of £2m to the former chief executive.

Meanwhile, new boss Mark Read has unveiled a drastic cost-cutting plan as he looks to simplify WPP’s sprawling corporate structure through a series of acquisitions.

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