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Medium has become “more important” than message, says Sir Martin Sorrell

The medium, or media, has become "more important" than the message, ushering in a new era in which creative and media can unite more harmoniously, according to WPP CEO Sir Martin Sorrell.

Speaking at MediaCom’s Beyond Advertising event in London yesterday Sir Martin said that it is the medium, or media, that determines the nature of the creative content, a fact which “doesn’t go down well” in established ad agencies.

“The days in which creatives ruled have gone and media departments are now much more front and centre. It’s much more balanced now, which is for the best. The Don Drapers of the world did rule, but no longer.

“The creative challenge has changed. To be brutally honest, we have tensions within our own business with the media businesses wanting to do more of what would have been regarded in Don Draper days as creative functions, and creative want to do more of the media or mathematical functions,” he said.

Sir Sorrell stated his belief that the disconnect between media and creative people came around the late 80s to early 90s, when he said creative “forgot the importance” of media. This led to people within media departments branching off and starting their own agencies as they felt undervalued. “That was the mistake. But you can’t put toothpaste back into the tube,” he said.

However, there is opportunity now for media and creative to come together in new, more balanced ways, according to Sorrell.

Recruiting the right talent, with the right digital skills mix is a vital part of WPP’s strategy. “I’m not saying we can compete with the likes of Google, Yahoo, AOL, or Facebook on giant server farms or PHDs from MIT but we will have more of those people, and we are more fun to work with,” he added.

Sir Martin said that WPP plans to increase its share in international markets such as Asia, Russia, and China to 45 per cent in total in the next five years, while it also expects its digital business to grow from 30 per cent to 45 per cent in the same time period.

In April, Sir Martin stated his belief that marketing had been "belitted" since the crash of Lehmann Brothers and the economic woes of the world in recent years began.

Featured by The Drum