Sorrell suggests definition of creativity outdated

Lindsay Bennett
By Lindsay Bennett | 25 January 2019
Martin Sorrell

Not one to miss an opportunity to take another shot at his ex-employer WPP, Martin Sorrell has suggested that creatives are living in the glory days of the past and the definition of creativity is out of date.

Sorrell, who infamously departed WPP last year and now heads up S4 Capital, took a swipe at other networks’ traditional approach to creativity while speaking on stage with Michael Tomes at an Connect London event, hosted by Creativepool.


“Our industry has always historically been described as a craft industry, but I’ve always regarded it as a business. Some people might disagree but it’s not a craft, it’s a business,” Sorrell said. 

“You’ve got people speaking at this conference who still look back on the rose-tinted Don Draper Mad Men era with some nostalgia and I think life has changed. The definition of content and creativity has changed." 

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.

Despite no obvious creative credentials, Sorrell said S4 Capital and Media Monks are just as concerned as anyone else in this industry about big ideas and creativity.

“The issue is it’s a different kind of [creativity] from the creative pool that the definition of creativity has shifted dramatically from where it was in the eighties and nineties and yet there are people that rigidly insist on looking back with rose-tinted spectacles,” he said.

He argued that data doesn’t destroy creative. Instead it makes it more effective.

“You must bring together the mad men and women and the maths men and women,” he told the audience.

“For anybody to say, whatever their creative credentials are, that it destroys creativity is nonsense.”

In a separate interview this week, Sorrell said he is very concerned about the progress WPP makes being a significant shareholder.

In the video below, Sorrell also discussed how he grew WPP to become the largest holding group in the world, the need for scale to succeed in advertising and the impact of products like Amazon Alexa. Watch it here:

Have something to say on this? Share your views in the comments section below. Or if you have a news story or tip-off, drop us a line at

Sign up to the AdNews newsletter, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for breaking stories and campaigns throughout the day.

comments powered by Disqus