Will WPP’s Sir Martin Sorrell’s next incarnation be as a Hollywood producer? You never know, his GroupM media buying giant has formed Motion Content Group, described as a “new global content investment and rights management company,” to hold its various investments in film and TV.
These include Imagine Entertainment (24, Empire), The Weinstein Company (Django Unchained, The King’s Speech), Media Rights Capital (House of Cards) and MediaPro (Midnight in Paris).
WPP says Motion “will invest and partner with the world’s leading talent, producers and distributors to fund, develop, produce and distribute premium content. It will also consolidate and diversify GroupM’s content investments and operations to-date, as well as utilize GroupM’s & WPP’s worldwide network of relationships and content expertise for scale and competitive advantage.”
WPP already invests in programme funding through GroupM Entertainment which helps fund programmes, often in return for airtime which it then allocates or sells to its clients. Richard Foster (below), who heads GroupM Entertainment, will be CEO of Motion.
Sorrell says: “With new content companies such as Netflix and Amazon growing rapidly, the competition for premium content is heating up across the globe. WPP is investing in Motion Content Group to strengthen our content creation and distribution capabilities, to help meet evolving viewer needs and to help advertisers continue to reach consumers in high quality content environments.”
Motion CEO Foster says: “Our objective is to help create and support editorially and commercially vibrant premium content for the benefit of our content partners and advertisers. We will achieve this by continuing to invest into the content industry and lead the development of new models, commercial content structures and partnerships with media networks, platforms, talent, producers and distributors.”
Which all sounds very whizzy. Some WPP shareholders and clients might wonder if you can ride two horses at once: making the stuff and buying ads in it. But that hasn’t deterred others: Facebook and Google spread their tentacles with gay abandon and other companies such as Sony have invested heavily in film, not alway successfully.
But advertising is low growth these days, to Sorrell’s regularly expressed frustration. Mine’s an espresso Martini.