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What Sir Martin Sorrell thinks he’ll do post WPP

In a rare public appearance since he was ousted as chief executive of the holding group he founded WPP, Sir Martin Sorrell today (May 15) gave an insight on his thoughts about his much anticipated next move in business; namely the application of emerging technologies in high-growth geographical markets.

Speaking at the 2018 Digital Media Summit, in New York City, Sorrell spoke on stage with Luma Partners chief executive Terence Kawaja about his thoughts on the current media landscape, including where the biggest opportunities lie, with the former WPP chief describing the period since his WPP exit as “a fresh start”.

Asked specifically on his thoughts about ’starting again’, he said: “There are two buckets: one is geography, and one is technology. So I'm looking at, and what I will focus on, and try and do again ... is look at where are the opportunities from a technology point of view and look at the opportunities from a geographical point of view, and put the two together.”

The influential business leader, who built WPP into the market’s largest advertising holding group, further went on to share his thinking on the evolution of the holding group model. The role of the classic advertising agency has come under much scrutiny in recent years, especially as advertisers adopt zero-based budgeting methods, along with exploring ‘in-housing’, and new media companies are joined by business consultancies threatening ‘disintermediation’.

However, Sorrell underlined his earlier stated belief in the resilience of agency holding group model, adding that taking advertising operations ‘in-house’ is much easier said than done.

According to Sorrell, the world’s largest corporations, such as Procter & Gamble or Unilever, now want advertising partners that can respond to briefs in an agile manner free from the legacy constraints of ‘old media’.

He said: “They want more agile, more responsive, more new media orientated, less bureaucratic, less heavy responses and organizations to the way they operate in.”

Sorrell went on to add: “On the programmatic side and addressable [TV] side, I still think clients will find it very difficult to keep the people, good people, update the technology in opposition to the agency holding companies.”

Sir Martin Sorrell was speaking at Luma Partners' Digital Media Summit, follow the #DMS18 on Twitter for more insights

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