Are We 2020 Ready?

“But the best way is to get back on the horse as quickly as possible. Perhaps build a business that is a little bit more orientated to modern day developments.”

“Sky’s the limit” in terms of the ultimate scale of S4 Capital, though it “won’t be size for size’s sake”

Two seemingly mundane statements by one of the world’s leading advertising professionals, Sir Martin Sorrell. However, what’s critical is to look at the statements from the perspective of when they were made and in what context and it opens up a whole new Pandora’s box. Both the statements were made immediately post Sir Sorrell’s departure from WPP and pre-MediaMonks acquisition by S4 Capital. 

MediaMonks is currently a pure Digital play company which Sir Sorrell intends to transform into the world’s next big communications and advertising play. One of the key reasons, apart from the financial acquisitions, why Sir Sorrell left WPP is his fight with the company on the premise that they had got so used to their advertising Big Boy hegemony that they had failed to read the times and what Clients were increasingly wanting. He was of the view that if WPP could not change then they would be wiped out. Interestingly and ironically this is the very same charge he was accused of – not moving quickly enough to address the new digital marketplace.

What started with P&G cutting its budgets significantly and the invent of Facebook & Google dominance coupled with growing competition from consultancies such as Accenture & Deloitte, that had moved into advertising, led to several big Clients such as HSBC putting their business with WPP up for review and hat to as recently as in 2017 & 2018. 

As quoted in a Financial Times article dated 11 June 2018, a former executive said: “His business model has come under stress at a time when he is distant from the consumer trends that are putting it under pressure. You won’t learn what 16-year-old girls are thinking about when you hang out at Davos.” 

If this is a battle that was going on at one of the biggest communication conglomerate’s in the world, it really got us a budding boutique agency thinking. Are we doing the right thing? Are we reading the trends right? Do we really know what our Clients would be needing 2-3 years down the line say in 2020 and are we structured / equipped to deliver that?

While the writing on the wall is clear to all that data, technology and content will be the big play over the next decade, as is evident from Sir Sorrell’s acquisition of MediaMonks, his first big play at S4 Capital, there are many more subtler hints that are to be deciphered from his recent statements and all that has transpired between WPP and Sir Sorrell. There is a lot to analyse and learn but then that is a whole new blog on its own, and something that we would like to articulate. So look out for this space over the next fortnight. Till then happy pondering…