WPP's Sorrell Talks Emotions, The Economy, Obama

New markets, new media, consumer insight, and a method to better communicate ideas internally that WPP CEO Sir Martin Sorrell refers to as "horizontality" will become the advertising conglomerate's focus in 2013.

Sorrell kicked off the Intel Capital Global Summit Monday evening on a semi-positive note, providing insight into economic conditions during the next couple of years to the hundreds of entrepreneurs and portfolio company execs in attendance, such as Jun-ichi Okamura, CTO of Trigence Semiconductor, who came to the event from Tokyo to network.

"Emotionally," Sorrell said, the economy seems a bit better in recent days, but "realistically" there's still much uncertainly, pointing to the U.S. presidential elections, for example. "It's highly likely Obama will win the election," he said, predicting that the U.S. government would have a majority Republican House of Representatives, and a Democratic Senate.

For WPP, new markets bring in 30% of the company's $72 billion in media billings, Sorrell said. He defined new media as the five-legged stool: search, video, display, social and mobile, and pointed to Google, Facebook and others in Silicon Valley as new media owners masquerading as technology companies.

WPP's financial objective puts new markets and media contributing about 35% of business within the next four to five years. He expects 2013 to remain a challenging year -- but potentially, WPP's revenue should grow between 4.5% and 5%, excluding any impact on currency and acquisitions, Sorrell said. Based on improving economic conditions, 2014 will be different.

"While in China a couple of weeks ago, we heard from people connected with the World Bank who said they will take down the GDP forecast for this year and next year," Sorrell said.

Sorrell called attention to nine trends, starting with the shift to Eastern, Southern and Southeast countries, such as China, India, Brazil, Africa and the Middle East. He named a talent shortage as a result of lower birth rates and decrease in family size, increase of disintermediation from low-cost business models, growth of big retailers, importance of internal communications with companies, global and local structures, rise of finance procurement power, greater consolidation, and growth of government.

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2 comments about "WPP's Sorrell Talks Emotions, The Economy, Obama".
  1. bee mosca from actor , October 2, 2012 at 10:46 a.m.
    Media companies must be held partially responsible for assuring the actors in the ads have been paid BEFORE buying and airing the commercials. $72 billion in ad placement dollars with the actors going unpaid for the use of their images so clients and agencies can save a few thousand while profiting in billions isn't acceptable. Ad agency legal departments shouldn't clear ads for air unless substantiation documentation is provided including that all talent is paid so as not to violate actor's intellectual property rights.
  2. Nik Benec from Nik & Renee , October 2, 2012 at 11:44 a.m.
    Perhaps we should stop asking out of touch billionaires for perspective on the state of the economy. We well learned, among other things, most (but not all) business tycoon billionaires and their political allies are completely out of touch with the world. Sorrell's market trends refer to places where billionaires can pillage to enlarge their riches....not places where all, society as a whole can thrive and prosper. There are better billionaire business leaders to forecast trends and lead society to a greater economical state of being. Mr Sorrell, people are more than your commodities or talent as you call them. Emotionally people are angry and billionaires are thrilled. Anger and thrilled are emotions. (re: article quote excerpt below) "better" is not an emotion in this context. Its nothing more than an out of touch reference to a dismal state of being for many in despair due to the state of the economy. And it has no context, "better" than what, total destruction? "Emotionally," Sorrell said, the economy seems a bit better in recent days, but "realistically" there's still much uncertainly, I found this perspective disturbing. And would like to hear from other business leaders on what "growth of the economy" should mean and not what it does currently so we my as a society evolve to a more healthy way of being.