The Drum Awards Festival - Official Deadline

-d -h -min -sec

Advertising Advertising Week

Sir Martin Sorrell hints media mergers like Fox/Disney will drive agency consolidation


By John McCarthy, Opinion Editor

March 20, 2018 | 4 min read

Sir Martin Sorrell, chief executive of WPP, has hinted that the industry's impending consolidation will be shaped by major moves in the media sphere.

Sir Martin Sorrell speaking at AWEuraope

MArtin Sorrell talks how media will drive consolidation

Disney's reported merger with 21st Century Fox opens up possibilities of a new super advertiser that would in Sorrell's opinion attract more spend than Facebook, WPP's second largest platform behind Google.

Speaking at at Advertising Week Europe, Sorrell speculated that while these moves are not in the ad industry, they will have an effect, also citing AT&T’s proposed merger with Time Warner, and Comcast's efforts to buy Sky.

"Disney has one sale organisation, if the Fox merger goes through, ourselves and clients will have a new opportunity with a new, much more powerful global player. If they acquired Sky too would have a direct consumer platform and control of Hulu, it would open up choice to us and our clients that we never had before."

He underlined that ad market consolidation will "continue to be inextricably, driven by the media side of the equation."

The reorganisation of WPP’s many brands began in earnest last year as the company combined its media agencies Maxus and MEC into Wavemaker, merged five of its design consultancies into Superunion and folded digital shop Possible into stablemate Wunderman - to mention a few.

The consolidations that are rocking WPP and its rivals are likely to favour "the larger" players he predicted. Sorrell intends to get his house in order, to do this he said he will across the group: "Simplify the company and its the verticals, with greater emphasis on organising around clients with consumers at the centre of what we do."

Sorrell also reflected on the company’s gender pay gap, which sat at 14.6%. Within the group, JWT, AKQA and Grey showed biggest discrepancies.

He said: "The gender pay report showed we are not good enough, in three of four quartiles, we hold our own, in the most senior quartile we don’t. On average we are 50:50 but at the very senior levels we area not."

He underlined efforts to correct the imbalance and pointed to recent senior hires such as Karen Blackett, WPP’s first UK country manager and Lindsay Pattison, chief transformation officer.

When pushed on whether the next chief executive officer of WPP is "likely to be a woman" Sorrell answered: "It is possible, not likely, but possible..."

Advertising Advertising Week

Content created with:


WPP plc is a British multinational communications, advertising, public relations, technology, and commerce holding company headquartered in London, England. It was...

Find out more

More from Advertising

View all


Industry insights

View all
Add your own content +