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Sir Martin Sorrell is Founder and Executive Chairman of S4 Capital plc, which is building a purely digital advertising and marketing services business for global, multinational, regional, local clients and millennial-driven influencer brands. Sir Martin was CEO of WPP for 33 years, building it from a £1 million “shell” company in 1985 into the world’s largest advertising and marketing services company. When Sir Martin left in April 2018, WPP had a market capitalisation of over £16 billion, revenues of over £15 billion, profits of approximately £2 billion and over 200,000 people in 113 countries. Prior to that, Sir Martin was Group Financial Director of Saatchi & Saatchi plc for 9 years and worked for James Gulliver, Mark McCormack and Glendinning Associates before that. S4 Capital plc merged with MediaMonks, its content practice, in July 2018 and MightyHive, its programmatic practice, in December 2018 and has added eight further content programmatic and data companies to both practices in 2019 and six in 2020. It is listed on the London Stock Exchange under SFOR.L and after a little over two years, S4 Capital plc has over 2870 people in 30 countries, with a market capitalization of over $2.7 billion. Sir Martin supports a number of leading business schools and universities, including his alma maters, Harvard Business School and Cambridge University and a number of charities, including his family foundation.Read moreView Profile Page
Again, it comes back to the motor torpedo boat versus the aircraft carrier; to have a fully integrated business, where people work – that much overworked word – seamlessly, together. On the call to Australia, I had our content people and our data and analytics and digital media people and they work extremely closely. We are moving towards one office in each city. We operate in about 46 cities, in 30 countries. Actually, the great thing about Covid – if there is a great thing about it, as at least 1.6 million people have been killed by this virus; it’s probably higher, given the lack of the veracity of the statistics – is that one of the things it has done has made us eject offices and reduce the number of offices much more quickly than we would have done anyway. Sydney is a very good example. Melbourne were probably in one building already because of jettisoning leases but, in Sydney, we’ll move together as well.
Accenture had a deep relationship with BMW and it didn’t do them any good in the review.
You’ll have to ask them; I’ve got no idea.
We have continuous debates. I think there is a fourth leg, if you like, beyond first-party data, digital advertising content and digital media, into something more strategic. On the other hand, a lot of what we do is very strategic. I don’t want to take on board these heavy structures that the agencies have. The problem the agencies have is their most highly-paid people are the overpaid people. They’re overpaid and you get this imbalance. The growing parts of the business are the ones that are probably underpaid, which is natural. It’s the analogue that the resources were devoted to, historically.
You make a sweeping statement there. What big relationships?
I’m not sure about Accenture and Deloitte. If you’re talking about McKinsey or BCG or Bain, then yes. Deloitte, Capgemini, Accenture; I’m not so sure. When WPP wanted a strategic review, it went to McKinsey.
But that’s different.
I think Accenture do a good job and, as I’ve said, they are our competition, both on the client side and the deal side of the business. I’ve said that extensively, elsewhere, that they are the competition that we fight, on a day by day basis.
There’s Inertia and there’s the, this is way we’ve done it for 50 years and this is the way we will continue. Covid-19 was such a shock to the system that, if there is any good that comes out of it is that change agents inside companies have been given more oxygen. I mentioned the steady state model of GDP growth at 2%, 3%, 4%, no inflation, no pricing power, focus on costs. Reduce your costs, increase your share buy-backs, get 5% to 10% of EPS growth. That was the model that went along and that’s been disturbed with a tremendous shock to the system in Q2. Profits were off by 50%; colossal changes, as a result. The model has been disrupted and changed.