Sir Martin Sorrell has revealed that he’s no fan of “in-housing” – where agency staff are embedded with the client – because he reckons top agency talent simply do not want to be restricted to working on one single brand.
Sorrell has penned his latest views of the industry – thankfully sans any WPP troublemaking but with plenty of PR for his own S4 – for the foreword to the latest edition of Madison Avenue Manslaughter, a satirical takedown of the advertising industry penned by former adlander, Michael Farmer.
In the wide-ranging piece – which you can read in full here – Sorrell argues that the practice of “in-housing” stifles and limits the people assigned to it.
“Keeping the best talent in one category or a limited set of categories will be very difficult,” Sorrell penned. “Great talent wants to work on many challenges and opportunities. Keeping abreast of technological developments is also difficult for individual clients to do, particularly when they’re trying to reduce costs.”
However, the wily 74-year-old still managed to take a few potshots at his competitors, this time the consultancies manoeuvring themselves into adland’s traditional patch.
“Consultants are not good at implementation or activation and are already running into execution problems. However, they are good at selling digital transformation or disruption projects at the highest management levels to CEOs and CFOs and CMOs and CIOs and CTOs, preying on the digital insecurities that legacy companies have,” Sorrell mused.
And, finally, he offered faint praise for the tech giants.
“Google, Facebook and Amazon are really media companies, although they don’t like to admit it, selling their own inventory. You wouldn’t entrust your media plan to one traditional media owner, so why do it to a digital media owner?
“Partnership with digital media agencies, like S4 Capital, is a better solution, where an agency can demonstrate the independent, transparent case for investment in the platform. In any event, the clear priority in the current or likely future environment is on increasing cost discipline (not cost cutting),” he wrote.