Sir Martin Sorrell has plans to buy agencies in India

Sorrell is keenly interested in agencies in content, data, and media planning space. He said his latest venture S4 Capital will be purely about technology.

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Dec 11, 2018 8:50 AM

Sir Martin Sorrell is in India with plans to shop for agencies in content, data, and media planning space. According to Sorrell, these three sectors are the main focus areas of S4 Capital and he will be interested in pure independent digital agencies and agencies that have broken away from networks and large agencies. Sorrell hopes that his company S4 Capital is seen as a new kid on the block with a different strategy.  

Speaking at an event in Mumbai on Monday evening, Sorrell said that version 3.0 of his avatar will be all about technology. “The 10 most important companies right now are Google, Facebook, Amazon, Tencent, Alibaba, Apple, Microsoft, Oracle, Salesforce, and Adobe. I would like S4 to be a royalty of the growth of all those companies.” 

Calling Google, Facebook, Amazon, Tencent, Alibaba, Apple, and Microsoft ‘seven sisters’, he said the last time a group of companies was referred to as ‘seven sisters’ was with the oil giants. “Jeff Bezos is like the John D Rockefeller of today,” he said. Sorrell noted that the last bunch of ‘seven sisters’ were regulated and the same might happen to the current ‘seven sisters’. 

Sorrell broadly spoke about the pressures on the agency business and the disruptions that are shaping the market. He said that agencies are mainly suffering because of pressure from clients and not only because of ‘frenemies’ like Google & Facebook, competition from consulting companies, and in-housing. 

Sorrell felt that mergers of legacy agencies with digital agencies like in the case of JWT with Wunderman and VML with Y&R may affect the brand and image of the older and more established agency. “JWT is more well-known in India than Wunderman. Now if people call it Wunderman, there could be a problem. I do believe in the strength of the brands and they have value,” he said. 

In the face of the large-scale mergers that WPP has initiated over the last few months, Sorrell said that the senior management of a multinational company like WPP should visit other markets. “The senior management of WPP has not visited Latam and Asia in the last six months. If you are going to make structural changes that result in losing 7,500 jobs out of the 135,000 jobs you have, there is a responsibility to visit those places and explain the decision.”

Prior to his India trip, Sorrell’s S4 Capital bought San Francisco ad tech company MightyHive. It was his second acquisition since leaving WPP and setting up S4 Capital. He made his first acquisition in July with a €300m deal to buy Dutch company MediaMonks. 

Before Sorrell arrived in Mumbai, he attended the pre-wedding celebrations of Mukesh Ambani’s daughter Isha Ambani in Udaipur. 


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