Sir Martin Sorrell: ‘The power in companies will shift to marketing’

Marketers will have an increasing amount of power in companies over the next ten years as technological and geographical shifts make their roles more important, says WPP chief executive Sir Martin Sorrell.

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Speaking at a Forrester hosted event on global marketing, Sir Martin said that the volume of product innovation and the increasing amount of time people spend online are handing marketers a greater role.

He adds: “We see significant over-capacity in virtually every industry we work in. If there is too much stuff that means that marketing becomes even more important.”

Sorrell cited WPP’s biggest client Ford as producing more cars than there is demand for.

He added that there is an imbalance between the media people are consuming and what is being spent on marketing.

About 32% of consumers’ time is spent online, including mobile, but global digital budgets are only about 17% this year, said Sorrell.

“This dissonance will be remedied over time and the flipside is that too much [marketing budget] is spent on newspapers. They stand out like a sore thumb.”

Sorrell predicted three major trends over the next ten years. “The focus will be on new markets, new media and consumer insight.”

Data insight will become increasingly important. “Information is no longer power. It is the ability to discern it and use it in a critical way.”

The emerging BRIC companies plus MIST (Mexico, Indonesia, South Africa and Turkey) currently make up third of WPP’s business and Sorrell wants this to become 35-40% “within fairly short order”.

WPP reported revenue growth of 4.7% in the three months to end September. Growth in Asia offset slower gains in the US and Western Europe.

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