Speaking at the launch of Truffle Pig in Cannes overnight, WPP CEO Sir Martin Sorrell, said that he believed in “eating your own children” as a necessary survival mechanism for his global communications agency.
In fine form at the announcement, Sir Martin started off by explaining how he had insulted Snapchat founder Evan Spiegel the first time he met him.
The 70-year-old advertising icon quipped: “I said to him you are the first 25-year-old billionaire I’ve ever met, to which he said, I’m not 25 I’m 24.”
Sorrell also expounded on his views of what was important within WPP, which he listed as technology, data and content. Apart from this he said that talent was the key element of his business.
“Traditionally agencies would differentiate themselves on talent and that remains core. Big ideas as some people describe them, ideas generally; creative ideas are the heart of our business. We invest around $12 billion dollars in one way or another in people and human capital,” he said.
He also said that he thought, “Facebook is to my mind a branding mechanism”.
However it was when he was asked whether the launch of Truffle Pig was really necessary that he really became animated.
Sir Martin said that WPP had three approaches to running its business.
He said that his traditional businesses “or businesses that started in what we might say are legacy areas”, were being told by him “you have to develop your digital capabilities or your new media capabilities”.
He then described his media assets as “the strong pure digital companies, which we’re telling to grow faster, grow global”.
“And last, but not least, we’ve got out experimentation or investment areas where you’ve got things like WPP Digital or WPP Ventures, which are continually trying to create. And the honest answer to the question is at some point in time you do cannibalise what you have.
“But I do believe in the cannibalisation argument. We had this at Internet 1.0, around the turn of the millennium. There was great debate about whether people in legacy businesses should start up new media.
“I mean The Mail Group is a great example of a company rooted in traditional media, which has expanded its digital portfolio very rapidly.
“So you have to be prepared to cannibalise parts of your operation, so I believe in eating your own children.”
Image: A relaxed looking Sir Martin (far right) with Daily Mail North America CEO Jon Steinberg, snapchat billionaire Evan Spiegel and Truffle Pig’s newly minted CEO Alexander Jutkowitz