Integrate with tech says Sorrell

23 October 2014

LONDON: The future of the advertising industry lies in greater integration with other business functions, particularly technology, according to Sir Martin Sorrell.

Addressing a party thrown to celebrate 50 years of Admap magazine, whose anniversary issue examines the future of brand communications, the head of agency holding company WPP recalled how, after acquiring J Walter Thompson in 1987, he had reintegrated its various specialisms into a full-service agency.

Fast forward to 2014 and the next step, he said, was "to integrate what we're doing not just across the marketing functions but the technology functions as well".

The industry, he felt, had "a spectacular advantage" in that it understood "the touchy-feely stuff". And while that wasn't true of the people on the technology side, "there's a fusion of the two that I think is going to become remarkably powerful and relevant, because we are starting to deal with CMOs, CFOs, CIOs and CTOs".

Noting the recent disappointing financial results from some major advertisers, Sorrell anticipated that the future would bring even more pressures on costs. "So the need to integrate and to think about communications planning in a much broader sense than we ever have done before I think is going to become extremely important," he declared.

The scale of change over his business lifetime had been significant – he observed that "the classic Don Draper stuff" only accounted for around one quarter of WPP revenues, the rest being divided between media, data investment management and digital.

Sorrell also paid tribute to one of the founding fathers of account planning, Stephen King, an early contributor to Admap. He said of a classic paper penned in 1967, Can research evaluate the creative content of advertising?, "A lot of the scientific elements in there are even more relevant today than when he first wrote about them almost 50 years ago".

Data sourced from Warc