Day 2 of the AdForum Worldwide Summit : Publicis Omnicom merger “fatally flawed” — Sorrel

by Johanna McDowell (@jomcdowell)

Day 2 of the AdForum Worldwide Summit, Tuesday, 9 October 2013, started off with a taped message from Sir Martin Sorrell of WPP in response to key questions we were asking regarding the WPP group, as well as the potential impact of the Publicis Omnicom Group merger. Sir Martin refers to it as POG — which, of course, is funny and interesting at the same time.


WPP sees the need for more scientific skills within the group in order to manage the future and the needs of data and technology. He also commented that business in general is much better than in 2009 but is still tough and will continue to be so for some time to come.

Regarding POG, Sir Martin believes that it is a “fatally flawed” merger, badly handled from a PR and client perspective with little consultation with staff and clients alike. It spells great opportunity for WPP.

Group M

We then moved onto Group M, the media trading group which contains the four WPP media agencies. An excellent overview of the market in general from the CEO, a discussion about “horizontality” ie harnessing group structures for the benefit of clients across countries and disciplines eg Team Detroit within WPP. Lots of discussion and questions around media and where the future lies.


Y&R was next and it has transformed itself in the past three years under the leadership of David Sable and his team, including a move to new premises — the first move in more than 90 years of being in business. A whole new energy, great traditions and experience at the top; lots of new young people.

We were shown some of the newest — and very impressive — work and some interesting new thinking about the duality of brands. One of the trends observed is that more people have access to mobile phones than to toothbrushes or toilets — makes you think!

Y&R in South Africa and Africa is, of course, very strong and the conclusion of the transaction with Native was a feature of the growth in the VML (digital ) Y&R network.

A delicious lunch on the rooftop of the agency premises with a magnificent view of Central Park rounded off that visit.

Agency compensation

A good discussion then, among the consultants only, around agency compensation and why agencies need to articulate their thoughts on what makes marketing spend different from any other spend pool for a marketer. (More on that at our next Subscriber Master Class – 10 key messages.)


We then moved on to MRY, which is a merger between Mr Youth and LBi, now owned by Publicis. With brave and creative social media work on a big scale and competing with R/GA and Razorfish, this full service digital agency believes in creating connected ideas make people’s lives better. It uses data to predict consumer behaviour and then supply the products and campaigns which will meet those new needs.


Finally, our last destination for the day was Wunderman, where we learned about emotional data along with how Wunderman views the future.

An excellent dinner with a very stimulating group of Wunderman people rounded off what was certainly a most stimulating second day of the summit.
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