Sorrell Eyes Communist Youth as Route to Chinese Consumer

28 October 2003

Sir Martin Sorrell hopes to turn young Chinese communists into footsoldiers for WPP Group clients.

The agency group boss is eyeing a partnership with the Communist Youth League of China, whose membership (an estimated 65 million) he believes could be used to reach the nation's consumers.

"It's about building a network in a big geographical area to try and distribute products, ideas and marketing approaches," Sorrell revealed to the Financial Times.

WPP agencies have used similar tactics elsewhere. In India, Ogilvy & Mather set up haircare clinics for women in 6,000 villages – the ultimate goal being to sell them shampoo.

However, some believe Beijing is unlikely to allow Sorrell to make a marketing machine out of a highly political group that grooms China's future leaders. According to its manifesto, the League's purpose is "firmly and unswervingly implementing the Party's basic line … in the great practice of building socialism with Chinese characteristics."

Data sourced from: Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff