Sorrell On The JWT-Wunderman Merger: “They’ve Thrown The Baby Out With The Bathwater!”

Sorrell On The JWT-Wunderman Merger: “They’ve Thrown The Baby Out With The Bathwater!”

Sir Martin Sorrell has used yet another press interview to lob yet another hand grenade WPP’s way.

Speaking to India’s Economic Times, Sorrell took aim at WPP’s recent decision to merge J.Walter Thompson and Wunderman and the two creative agencies VML and Y&R.

The 74-year-old, who is apparently in India hunting new acquisitions for is own S4, said the JWT-Wunderman merger was “like pining the tail on the donkey”, an apparent reference to JWT’s significant brand strength.

“I think they were trying to signify digital first, which is wholly acceptable and the right thing to do,” he said of the merger.

“But these are delicate flowers that you don’t want to lose. You don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater and I think you know here in India is an interesting example. JWT is a very prominent company in India and you wouldn’t call it Wunderman Thompson. To my mind, that doesn’t make sense in the Indian context,” he said.

The now merged Wunderman Thompson could prove to be “de-motivating to people and to the clients,” Sorrell added.

When asked how S4 would operate differently to WPP, Sorrell said: “We start from the digital corner or the digital base and that’s where we’re going to put all our focus. We’re starting in three areas – content, data, and programmatic. Those we think are key things that make up what’s happening in the marketplace.”

Sorrell’s comments follow yesterday’s news out of WPP’s London HQ that it would shed 3500 jobs globally and shut 80 offices worldwide. The move was to placate shareholders amid WPP’s plummeting share price and steel the business as it confronts a serious deterioration in its revenues.

Over the weekend, a senior WPP executive publicly lambasted Sorrell for constantly “talking down” WPP and its new CEO, Mark Read.

Boss of WPP’s The & Partnership, Johnny Hornby, said: “It’s disrespectful to them and makes him look small,” Hornby said.

“When he left in the summer the company badly needed a change of direction and strategy that Martin had not delivered and he should allow Mark to get on now unhindered.”

Sorrell had previously described WPP as a “car crash” and that it had become too “Anglo-orientated”.


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