Sir Martin Sorrell has been particularly vocal during the coronavirus outbreak, predicting tough times for agency land and ramping-up his anti-holding company rhetoric.
Just last week, B&T reported his latest comments that the major holding companies – WPP, Omnicom, Publics, Havas, IPG, DAN – were in, as he put it, “deep doo-doo” and in the industry was heading for a “Darwinian culling” (ie only the fittest agencies would survive the pandemic).
And now new documents leaked to the media suggest Sorrell’s S4 is licking its lips at the opportunity to acquire top agency talent, agencies and their clients who’ve found themselves in trouble due to the massive CV-19-inspired downturn.
The memos, acquired by Business Insider, reveal S4 has drawn up a list of “distressed” agencies and production companies around the globe that have applied for government-funded relief programs.
The 75-year-old Sorrell has repeatedly lambasted the holding companies for their reliance on TV advertising dollars and over-paying ECDs when they should be promoting digital experts.
Sorrell has said he has no interest in “slow growth agencies”, although he’s also said that the TV-driven GroupM is about the only part of the WPP business he’d be interested in, valuing it at $US15 billion annually.
In a memo to S4 staff and published on Business Insider, Sorrell reportedly said, “Clients want us to share ideas. Most of our competitors are hiding and clients don’t like it.”
He added: “We’ve picked up stresses and strains already at B-Reel, R/GA, M&C Saatchi and Deutsch, but we’re really interested in hearing about potentially distressed companies in our sector,” Sorrell wrote, before adding he wanted S4 staff to look out for “competitive intelligence” around the world.
“There will be opportunities to pick up good people and clients and, of course, for consolidation,” the memo said.
Last week, S4 posted its first-quarter numbers that proved impressive given the business environment. You can read B&T’s reporting on that here.
The London-headquartered S4 grew its revenue by 17 per cent like-for-like in the first quarter of the year, the company said.
Reported revenue was £71 million ($A135 million) in the first three months of 2020, with gross profit up 19 per cent like-for-like to £61 million ($A166 million).
Sorrell has said S4’s predilection for a client base consisting of big tech companies has given it some immunity to the global pandemic downturn.
He also noted clients that planned to spend during the Olympics had moved spends into the digital space.
However, it wasn’t all good news. Sorrell noting that some clients faced “extreme financial pressure” and had asked for more time to pay their agency fees, later stating that S4 leadership is “concerned” about “possible non-payment”.
It also appears that S4 will use the downturn to ramp up its data analytics services to clients and offer services to help clients move events and conferences online. Or, as Sorrell put it: “There’s gold in those hills.”
MullenLowe New York and Mediahub have launched an exposé on legal gaps, one of the key prevention measures needed to end violence against women and girls around the world in a public service campaign for UN Women. As violence has increased against women during the COVID-19 pandemic, and an additional 15 million women are expected to be affected […]
CarAdvice / Drive has welcomed motor sport presenter and journalist Charlie Bullis to its editorial team. Adding to its ever-expanding content team, Charlie brings a passion for all things performance and racing having previously contributed to SpeedCafé, MotorSportM8 and the TA2 Muscle Car Series. CarAdvice Managing Editor, Trent Nikolic said: “We are very excited to […]
With the growth and demand of Digital Out-of-Home (DOOH) continuing to rise, QMS has launched an in-house creative services division QUBE. Designed to facilitate greater collaboration with advertisers and agencies, QUBE can help unlock the more engaging dynamic creative capabilities DOOH has to offer, in an effort to deliver more memorable campaigns for clients. Combining […]
In this piece, Doddle APAC CEO Justin Dery explains why retail marketers should look beyond traditional delivery options this Christmas. 2020 has been a year like no other, and marketers across the world, regardless of industry, have been forced to rethink brand interaction, upweighting digital and tracking rapidly evolving consumer behaviour. This year’s sales season […]
Following an extensive search, Sydney WorldPride today announced the appointment of Adam Zammit to the newly created role of Director, Partnership & Revenue. WorldPride – an international festival celebrating LGBTIQ+ culture and joy – will be held for the first time in the Southern Hemisphere, when the festival comes to Sydney in 2023. Zammit’s key […]
PAW Patrol’s heroic pups are on a roll this summer and ready to spread the word about the importance of water safety, through the PAW Patrol Safety First! prosocial initiative. The water safety program, created in partnership with world champion swimmer and water safety advocate Michael Phelps, launches today with a public service announcement. Starring […]
Independent creative agency, The Core Agency, has created a new campaign for national in-home aged care and disability support provider, Just Better Care. Just Better Care is one of Australia’s largest accredited providers, delivering in-home social and lifestyle support services that enable people to live independently.Its network of over 40 franchise territories provides affordable and […]
Creative agency Andpeople has teamed up with active-streetwear label P.E Nation to create a custom-built augmented reality (AR) dressing room ahead of the label’s latest launch. The digital dressing room was unveiled to coincide with the launch of P.E Nation’s ‘Sustainable in Snow’ collection. In partnership with Andpeople and the globally recognised team behind the […]
From Airbnb to Calm and all the apps in between, the rise of app-based companies calls for specific app advertising solutions, according to Snap Inc. Following the launch of Snap Connect—a tool to help marketers learn about direct response (DR) advertising strategies on Snapchat—Snap has launched an advertising product suite built specifically for app marketers. […]
Ad tech vendor Adform had made a significant step towards promoting transparency in digital advertising, becoming the first global ad tech vendor to subject its tech stack to an independent audit. The audit follows a report released in May 2020 by the ISBA and AOP in the UK. The research, which was executed by PwC, […]
Actor Matthew McConaughey is shining a light on Australian Local Legends, as part of Wild Turkey’s latest ‘Wild Turkey With Thanks’ initiative. In the latest phase of the ‘With Thanks’ platform, McConaughey, who is the creative director of Wild Turkey, chats with Aussies who have stood with conviction, supporting their environment and communities throughout the […]