Sorrell Sanguine on 08, Sepulchral for 09

19 October 2007

MOSCOW: Sir Martin Sorrell's normally stratospheric profile has been slightly subdued over the past few weeks. This morning, however, adland's premier knight is back where he is most at home - in the headlines!

Today's Wall Street Journal features an interview with the WPP Group ceo, currently in the Russian capital for a WPP board meeting. Sir Martin, as usual, was happy to share with the world his prognostications for the global advertising industry.

He confessed his concern as to the likely impact on the world's financial markets of plummeting US house prices and the subprime fallout, but believes it to be too early to gauge their effects on the advertising market.

"The issue that I'm more concerned about is what happens after the elections in America in 2008," he confided, opining that a new administration might try to deal early in its term with the problems of budget and trade deficits and a weak dollar.

"If there's anything unpleasant to do, you do it earlier rather than later," he said. This could damage economic prospects in the short term.

In the interim, however, all is sweetness and light, and Sorrell reprised his earlier prognostications for 2008 - that the Beijing Olympics, the US presidential elections and the European soccer tournament will likely add about 1% to global ad spending, compensating for any economic softness.

As to his locale of the day: WPP aims to quadruple the size of its Russian business over the next five years. "Our business in Russia is the smallest in the BRICs [the burgeoning Brazil, Russia, India and China economies] but it's the fastest-growing."

WPP's primary business partner in Putin's paradise is media services company Video International Group. WPP also owns 49.9% of PBN Holdings, a US strategic communications consultancy that also operates in Russia.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online. additional content by WARC staff