Mazel tov, Sam & Madison: Sir Martin Sorrell

02 Apr,2013


Sir Martin Sorrell first ventured into advertising with Saatchi & Saatchi – and was addressed as third brother to Charles and Maurice Saatchi by many then.  In those days, he was not impressed by the way the industry was run. He purchased Wire and Plastic Products, a wire basket manufacturer in 1985-and there began the journey called WPP- the advertising and media giant. An MBA from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Business Administration, Sir Sorrell is Group Chief Executive Officer, WPP.


Madison and WPP, as is known, are not only close competitors in India, but also partners – Mediacom in India being their joint venture.  On the occasion of Madison Media’s 25th anniversary, RITU MIDHA of MxM India asked Sir Martin Sorrell for his views on Madison, Sam, his JV with Madison and if he would be interested in WPP partnering Madison.


1. What, in your view, are the key factors that have enabled Madison’s success as a standalone media agency?

Sam, Sam, and Sam is the answer to that.


Sam has been the driving force in Madison in developing it into the force that it is.


Lara obviously has been a great support to Sam, but I think we have to say that the agency is very focused on Sam and his talents and his view of media planning and buying in the Indian context.


Sam is a wonderful entrepreneur in our industry, in India. He has a very deep and engaging vision of how the media business has grown, is growing and will grow in India, over the last quarter century, and I’m sure over the next quarter century at least.


2. How is the Mediacom experience in India – are there any ideology clashes?

Certainly not to my knowledge, but you’d have to ask Sam about that.


It seems to me that we have a very shared vision on how clients should be responded to, serviced and how client relationships should be developed.


3. How does the expertise WPP and Madison bring to table for Mediacom differ?

WPP looks at things in a global context, not only an Indian context, and we have strong linkages to consumer insight and data and horizontality as well as digital and internet and interactive expertise. In some senses, Madison and Sam complement that because they place an enormous amount of emphasis on big data, on consumer insight and of course on the development of digital.


We’re pretty much in agreement strategically and structurally about how we go about things.


4. You have a sizable presence in India. Why did you tie up with your closest competition here?

Madison is a media planning and buying agency,or what we at WPP would call media investment and management.


To WPP, media, while it’s an important part of our operations, in India,that is just one part of it. We have approximately US$500 million of revenue in India, andthat revenue covers an awful lot of activity.


Having said that,  in media planning and buying, or media investment and management, Madison is a worthy competitor and a strong competitor, although there are others as well in the market.But I would agree with you that of the media competition there, Madison is the strongest competition.


Given our client pattern in India, it makes sense for us to have a joint venture with Sam, which has proven to be extremely successful.


5. Sam has often indicated that though he is not interested in selling Madison, he is open to a global partner in Madison. If the opportunity arises, would WPP be interested?

The answer is “definitely”.


6. 25 glorious years – your message to Sam and Madison?

Mazel tov!


7. Moving to a slightly broader subject, at a time when political and economic predictions about India are not too very rosy, how do you see our media market shaping?

I think your question is too gloomy. I’m extremely optimistic about India and its growth. Most BRICs have had a slowdown — that’s in relative terms because in Europe we would kill for 5 or 6 percent growth, which it looks like the Indian economy will deliver. If the Indian economy grows at 5 to 6 percent, we will grow at double that rate, as we did virtually last year andwill do again this year.


So, I’m not gloomy at all about India. With the rise of the lower middle and middle class in India bringing 100s of millions of people literally into relative prosperity,Isee nothing but opportunity in India along with other markets such as Brazil, Russiaand China, and indeed the next 11 and the CIVETs.


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