Sorrell continues to distance S4 Capital from the agency model he built

Sir Martin Sorrell’s S4 Capitalkeeps growing, but with the constant focus of maintaining a “unitary” structure, a topic the agency chief discussed with The Drum's editor-in-chief Gordon Young.

Sorrell spoke with The Drum at CES, outlining his “new age, new era model” for S4 that he hopes will see it through a “decay” in the holding company model.

“You have to have a unitary structure. all the traditional holding companies are trying to move in the direction of one firm. The big difference between each of them is the speed at which they do it and how much breakage they cause,” Sorrell said.

“We have our content pillar built around MediaMonks, we have our programmatic pillar built around Mightyhive, and we're driving them together as a unitary structure. Everybody who joins our company... is committed to the new model and changing the way that our clients do their marketing.”

Sorrell’s new model which has taken a “purely digital” approach is centered around using first-party data to develop digital advertising content and programmatic.

After building WPP into a giant marketing conglomerate during his 33-year tenure, the holding company struggled after Sorrell’s departure, but so too have most of the traditional holding companies as they battle in-housing and changing client demands.

There does seem to be some momentum, for example, with Publicis Groupe’s 'Power of One' model showing positive signs and Dentsu Aegis Network finding strong results in APAC after a restructuring. Current WPP boss Mark Read also has recently told AdAge that the agency is starting the year “in a really good place”.

“We have a clear strategy for the company. We have the structure we need, the balance sheets are in a much stronger place,” he said.

Sorrell, who acts as executive chairman of S4, built his group in part by poaching someformer WPP executives.

S4 made its first big move in July 2018 when it bought digital production company MediaMonks, which has since been on a major mergerspree overthe lastsix months.

Sorrell’s venture most recently bought a digital agency “unencumbered by analogue baggage’’, called Circus Marketing, to strengthen the groups’ content offering in Latin America.

Louise Martens, global head of embedded production at MediaMonks, said she will be following how short-form video and “the type of creativity that goes along with” platforms such as TikTok and Quibi affect brands and marketers.

Watch the interview with Sir Martin Sorrell and some other members of the S4 Capital team in the exclusive video above.

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