WPP boss Martin Sorrell: 'Don Draper wouldn't recognise 75% of what we do'

The head of the world's largest advertising and marketing group says automated online ad buying can still be 'creative'. And he's a fan of Mad Men.

by Rachel Savage
Last Updated: 25 Apr 2016

The advertising industry has fundamentally changed. That’s the message of Sir Martin Sorrell, head of WPP – still the world’s largest advertising and marketing group after the Publicis-Omnicom merger collapsed.
 
‘Digital and interactive marketing, programmatic buying [automated online ad buying] and big data now account for about $14 billion of our $18 billion of revenues. Don Draper and Roger Sterling simply wouldn’t recognise three quarters of what we do today,’ Sorrell said in a LinkedIn blog post and accompanying interview (check out the video below).
 
Contrary to what some might say, the process of targeting online advertising is ‘highly creative and on the cutting edge’, Sorrell added (no one would hire any ad men if they thought they’d become grey and boring now would they?).
 
‘Our best relationships are when a CEO has a clear vision and the CMO shares that vision and is given the power to implement it, and indeed enforce it,’ Sorrell said, perhaps unsurprisingly, for someone who has to schmooze chief marketers.
 
The ad boss also said he hates it when people ‘call us a conglomerate, because I think we’re a relatively focused advertising and marketing services company.’
 
Oh, and he hopes the ‘final season’ of Mad Men isn’t actually its last.

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