NEWS: Sorrell slams outdated agency working practice in IAA speech

Agencies in the emerging markets of Asia and South America are putting their US and European counterparts to shame by pioneering more client- friendly working methods, Martin Sorrell, the WPP chief executive, claimed this week.

Agencies in the emerging markets of Asia and South America are putting

their US and European counterparts to shame by pioneering more client-

friendly working methods, Martin Sorrell, the WPP chief executive,

claimed this week.



Speaking to more than 2,000 delegates at the International Advertising

Association’s congress in South Korea, he derided established agencies

for their conservatism.



The most radical experiments in agency organisation were taking place in

improbable locations such as the Philippines, Thailand and Argentina,

rather than in London or New York, he said.



His speech is the latest broadside in what has been a sustained

criticism by Sorrell of agencies for their failure to abandon outdated

and entrenched working methods.



‘What’s interesting when you observe these fast-growing markets in

Thailand, the Philippines and Argentina is that you see some of the most

radical experiments by agencies in changing their organisational

structure, making them much more client driven,’ he said.

‘That has to happen. It’s only logical to organise our business on a

client basis rather than a functional or geographical one. If we don’t

do that, we will be less responsive and less mindful of change than our

clients have become.’



Earlier, Sorrell had debunked what he claimed was the myth that agencies

were at the forefront of progress. ‘People looking at our industry think

the people working in it are at the cutting edge of progress and are

very fast-footed and quick to change,’ he told delegates. ‘Nothing, I

assure you, could be further from the truth.’



The fact was that agency staffers were more conservative than lawyers,

investment bankers and management consultants, he said.



‘The simple fact is that our organisational structures are similar today

to what they were 80 or 90 years ago,’



Sorrell continued. ‘They are failing to communicate as effectively as

they should in an increasingly competitive environment.’



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