S4’s Sorrell opens up to Guardian on Facebook ad boycott and navigating the recession

S4 Capital’s Sir Martin Sorrell has been chatting to the Guardian’s Mark Sweney – Mark manages to conduct an interview with SMS without referencing “better, faster, cheaper”which is no mean feat – where, inter alia, he observes of Facebook and the ad boycott:

“At the heart of this issue is whether these platforms are tech companies or media companies, a publisher,” he says. “They all say they are tech companies. I’ve always held the view they are publishers and they must act like publishers and be responsible for their content. They can’t say they are digital engineers tightening nuts on digital pipes with digital spanners and are not responsible for digital content that flows through those pipes. They are.”

Spot on. And also describes how he sees the current recession (he’s famous for his descriptions of them): “an inverted square root.” He goes on: “If you invert the square root you drop, recover but not to the extent before,” he says. “Overall it’s the best thing I’ve come across to describe it.”

Square roots are as big a mystery to me now as they were at school but you get his drift (I think.) Most bits will recover, some will go entirely? Anyway, it’s a good piece and worth a read (maybe with a donation to the Guardian.)

Sorrell’s issue at S4 is where does the next big bit of growth come from. Buying Dutch-based content business MediaMonks was a stroke of genius (WPP was also said to be interested) as it’s a way to ride on the tech giants as they increase their media dominance. Most of the other bits seems to be about increasing geographical reach, which he’s done.

Will the next big move be creative (MediaMonks) or media (MightyHive)?

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About Stephen Foster

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Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.