The view from the top: Sir Martin Sorrell's take on the global advertising industry at ad:tech New York 2009

Stephen Whiteside

Few conference speakers can claim to enjoy the pulling power of Sir Martin Sorrell, chief executive of WPP Group, the agency holding company. Since acquiring a large stake in Wire and Plastic Products in 1986, Sorrell has transformed the organisation from a little-known manufacturer of shopfittings and supermarket baskets to the world's largest marketing services conglomerate by revenue, overtaking its main rival, Omnicom Group, last year.

Appearing for the first time at an ad:tech event, the diminutive adman decided to speak "among" the audience in New York rather than from the stage. He also eschewed the traditional PowerPoint prop, preferring to give a topline view "of how we see things at the moment, and putting that into the context of what we are trying to do as a business."