Disney-Fox merger could create a new super advertiser: Sir Martin Sorrell

Sir Martin Sorrell, Founder and CEO of WPP, in conversation with CNNMoney’s Nina dos Santos at the ongoing Advertising Week Europe (AWE) put the spotlight on current opportunities and challenges facing the ad industry and how to prep up for more challenging situations ahead. “You can’t have choices. You have to deal with all of them. We are responding by trying to simplify the company and it verticals and lay greater emphasis on organising around clients with consumers at the centre of what we do,” Sorrell said while commenting on what industry change he would like to focus more. 

Last year during his India visit, Sorrell had mentioned Facebook and Google as less ‘frenemies’ than when he was in India two years ago. He maintained, “In fact, I would describe them as flexible friends now, in that we are now working more closely with them”, and added that the public stance taken by Facebook and Google is that they are tech companies. In the video conversation at AWE, now with speculated merger of Disney and 21st Century Fox, he hinted at the possibility of a new super advertiser that will rank ahead of Facebook attracting more spends and behind Google. 

According to The Drum report, the ad veteran shared that these moves will have an effect, also citing AT&T’s proposed merger with Time Warner, and Comcast’s efforts to buy Sky. The ad market consolidation will continue to be inextricably driven by the media side of the equation. “But WPP’s acquisition focus would continue to be on small companies in fast-growth markets and in fields including data, technology and content,” added Sorrell. 

The Drum also quoted Sorrel as saying, “Disney has one sale organisation, if the Fox merger goes through, there will be a new opportunity with a new, much more powerful global player. If they acquired Sky too, it would have a direct consumer platform and control of Hulu, it would open up choice to us and our clients that we never had before.” 

Further, Sorrell also touched upon the UK gender pay gap report for 2017 which was published by WPP earlier this month. WPP has a gender-balanced workforce in the UK: 51 per cent men and 49 per cent women. However, there are fewer women in senior executive roles, where pay is highest, which results in a gender pay gap. This reflects the wider marketing services industry: according to the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising only 30.9 per cent of C-suite roles in the UK are held by women. Within the group, JWT, AKQA and Grey showed biggest discrepancies.


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