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Left An Indelible Mark

There is no denying the fact that Sir Martin has left an indelible mark, not only at WPP, but in the industry, worldwide

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The media reminds us that Sir Martin Sorrell founded WPP 33 years ago. It got me thinking, and I realised that I have been associated with WPP for 27 out of these 33 years, first as an employee, and later as a client. And I have had the opportunity to observe and experience Sir Martin through both these filters and a few personal engagements.

I first had the opportunity to meet and present to him in the early ‘90s, when I was a rookie at Ogilvy, having recently founded its financial practice. Scared. Apprehensive. But he quickly put my fears to rest by asking me the rationale behind setting up this practice which did not have a precedent within WPP, or in the country, at that point in time. Very sharp. Full of questions.  

I left the room admiring the man.

Imagine my joy and pride, when at the evening party with all the WPP companies in India, the head of an agency walked up to me and said, “(It) Seems you spoke to Sir Martin about the opportunity of creating financial brands at a time when the rest of the industry is focused on milking the IPO market with one-off campaign and statutory ads.”

While a holding company in those days was seen as a ‘financial controller’ and possibly no more, Sir Martin was ahead of the curve. He created WPP as a holding company that actually played a role in the lives of the agencies, its people and clients. There’s no denying that WPP had a sharp eye for the financial health of its agencies, but each agency was allowed independence within the accepted ‘corridors of freedom’.

While he had many competing agencies under his network, he encouraged them to compete and collaborate, simultaneously. And this gave rise to the post of a WPP Country Head in India. An industry first, if my memory serves me right. To explore new opportunities and ensure synergies, while retaining the identities of the individual agencies.

There is no denying the fact that Sir Martin has left an indelible mark, not only at WPP, but in the industry, worldwide.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.


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Magazine 28 April 2018 ipo market opinion

Ajay Kakkar

The author is Chief Marketing Officer at Aditya Birla Capital

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