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criticism by Sorrell of agencies for their failure to abandon outdated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.’