Sorrell takes another swipe at ‘fragmented’ WPP structure

Lindsay Bennett
By Lindsay Bennett | 10 January 2019
Martin Sorrell, Wesley ter Haar and Pete Kim on stage at CES

It may be a New Year but some things will never change, with Martin Sorrell taking another swipe at his former employer on stage at CES.

Sorrell, who infamously exited from WPP last year, slammed the fragmentation within holding group structures.

He said clients want faster, better and cheaper executions, which, conveniently, are better executed within the structure of his new company S4 Capital.

“They want the holding company to act as one,” Sorrell said.

Greater collaboration across the network was something Sorrell was trying to implement at WPP with his horizontality strategy before he was forced out of the group.

He stressed the structure of S4 is the answer to adland’s transformation with client demand for new models reaching “new heights”.

“When you ask [big clients] what their biggest issue is, they say lack of speed. Clients say that about agencies as well. They're too slow. Even the smaller, independent agencies don't move as quickly as clients want. The premium is on speed," he said.

With its recent acquisitions, S4’s model encompasses data, digital content as well as programmatic, and media planning and buying. Notably missing from the network is a business with the same creative talent and legacy as an agency like Ogilvy or Y&R, now VMLY&R.

Sorrell was joined by Wesley ter Haar, cofounder at MediaMonks, which became part of S4 six months ago, and Pete Kim, CEO at MightyHive, a programmatic company that he acquired in 2018.

Kim echoed Sorrell’s sentiment about fragmentation of networks, declaring it’s the “enemy of speed”.

"We see the opportunity to unite the creative and media function in a way that hasn’t been done for decades,” he said.

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