CANNES: Sir Martin Sorrell, formerly of WPP, told a Cannes audience yesterday that his new S4 Capital venture plans to go upstairs and sit at the top table like the consultants.

“We’re starting from ground-zero,” he said of S4 Capital, which he went on to refer to as a “peanut” compared to his former firm. “I wouldn’t be worried about a peanut,” he added, “though it does occur to me that some people have peanut allergies”.

Sir Martin spoke about the consultancies as a model to admire – specifically where and how they go after business. “When I look at S4 Capital, it’s going to do two things, it’s going to try and deal at the highest levels of the companies that it deals with,” which he admitted was a very optimistic ambition.

“At the same time,” he said, he intends to “tactically implement in a totally new way … more agile, more responsive, less bureaucratic, more creative”.

He cautioned that it was early days. “We’re starting from the very beginning … we’re looking at a number of opportunities in what I would call new era, new age.”

His remarks were not a condemnation of the last thirty years of what WPP has done, and neither were they a condemnation of its next thirty years, he insisted. It is instead “just a realisation that the business has changed and life has changed”.

In recognition of that, “the structure of S4 Capital will be totally different from anything that we saw at WPP”.

Speaking at The Drum’s intimate pub venue on the fringe of the festival, Sir Martin spoke customarily about the state of marketing and his place in it, taking the opportunity to address some of the allegations that have been made about his actions and his behaviour.

He said that he had requested an investigation into the leak over the Easter weekend which precipitated his resignation and he also responded to a recent Financial Times article that put his firing of his personal chauffeur at the centre of the unravelling of his position.

“To be fair to me,” he said, “I’ve often thought what I should do is publish the emails [from FT reporters] to try and redress the balance”.

As to reports of his management style – described as bullying in some accounts – Sir Martin accepted he could be difficult as a boss, “but not without justification”.

Sourced from WARC, Financial Times