Summit Notebook

Exclusive outtakes from industry leaders

Recession’s perfect storm speeds up change in ad industry

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Why is it that the United States’ advertising as a proportion of marketing services is at its lowest point since 1977, maybe even lower than since the Second World War?

You may have guessed it it’s the recession.

But it will get better, Martin Sorrell, CEO of advertising giant WPP, said.

“The recession is less worse,” Sorrell said, repeating a favourite phrase of late, and while it’s the biggest recession since 1929 it is also “a perfect storm” that has brought forward change. 

“The recession has accelerated structural changes that were already happening,” Sorrell said at the Reuters Global Media Summit.

Will advertising ever go back to where it was? Yes, if you are looking at new media advertising on Kindles and mobile.

Q&A with WPP’s Sir Martin Sorrell

Sir Martin Sorrell, CEO of WPP Group Plc, was interviewed as part of the Reuters Global Technology, Media and Telecoms Summit held this week around the globe. He talked to Reuters reporter Kate Holton in London, with groups of reporters calling in from Paris and New York to ask questions. Here are extended excerpts from a longer interview:  

SOFTER 2009; REBOUND IN 2010

Reuters: How is the U.S. advertising market holding up in light of the credit crunch and housing crisis?

Here’s an idea…

sorrell.jpgSir Martin Sorrell of WPP Group presides over the world’s second largest advertising services company. Business leaders the world over have consulted him on his views on how global economic trends will unfold. Many credit him with being far-sighted on the emergence of India and China, on the importance of the Internet and new media.
    
Today, at the Reuters Global Technology Media and Telecoms Summit, he suggested that corporations consider a complete about-face to the basic marketing idea entrenched for decades in the U.S. and Europe.  

One of the paradoxes we’re probably going to have to deal with in our industry is that historically, we’ve encouraged consumers to consume more. What we may have to do, particularly in the West as the oil price gets to $140, $150 or maybe even $200 (per barrel) … we may have to encourage people to consume less. That’s a very different approach. 

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