The Tories must be more business friendly after failing to secure the support of the corporate world during the coronavirus crisis, ad veteran Sir Martin Sorrell has said.
Speaking to City A.M., Sorrell said the government “went down the wrong direction” in its response to the pandemic earlier this year and had angered businesses with its approach to lockdown measures.
“There were a lot of irate people — retailers in particular — because of the second lockdown, who felt they hadn’t been consulted enough,” he said.
“In relation to business, I don’t think the government has been as helpful as it possibly could, but having said that it is a very difficult situation.”
Sorrell, who leads digital ad firm S4 Capital, acknowledged that it was “easy to criticise and very difficult to execute”, but added: “I think you have to say we didn’t plan this very well.”
“I have some sympathy for the government, but on the basis of the performance it hasn’t been the best it could have been and they haven’t secured, to the extent they needed, the cooperation of business.”
Despite this, the media mogul struck an upbeat tone about the economic outlook for 2021, stating that developments in the Pzifer vaccine, combined with a GDP “bounce”, would help drive a return to normality.
He added that Joe Biden’s closely-fought victory in the US presidential election showed the American electorate had struck a “balance”.
Sorrell said the lack of a so-called blue wave would likely mean lower stimulus, but would also reduce the threat of tax hikes.
“The market is reacting the way it is because they see this as being — from an economy point of view — if not a perfect solution then probably the best solution.”
The comments came after S4 Capital posted a sharp rise in revenue and profit for the third quarter, boosted by major client wins.
Sorrell said he expected his company’s recovery to continue strongly as brands continued to pour more money into digital ad services.
The ad boss, who was in the US for meetings last week, said he was continuing to explore further takeover opportunities, adding that the merger market was “febrile”.