Assessing the Industry Titans

building at night
Thursday, September 27, 2018

An armchair analysis of the strategies being put forth by WPP's New CEO Mark Read and ex-CEO Martin Sorrell.

New WPP CEO Mark Read's move this week to consolidate ad agency Young & Rubicam and digital agency VML into one "brand experience agency" called VMLY&R was a good move.

Want proof? Ask yourself this: One week ago today, did you think that Y&R had the slightest semblance of relevance in a modern marketing world?

I also know this is a good model because Traction has grown up as a creative agency with capabilities spanning advertising and digital for 17 years. In fact, we used to call ourselves a brand experience agency until we determined that nobody knew what the hell that was.

Regardless, our structure allows us to focus on solving clients' marketing challenges regardless of what kind of tactic is going to solve their problem.

We don't sell nails just because we own a hammer.

Meanwhile, headlines about former WPP CEO, Sir Martin Sorrell's grand plan for S4 Capital building a new model that "cuts creative agencies out of the loop altogether" is fake news.

As a creative agency leader, I—like I'm sure many of my brethren—read that headline with trepidation. Then, I read the actual article and saw that just about every single thing that we do as a creative agency is included in Sir Martin's Model.

The design of a brand's identity.

The design and production of content.

Distribution of that content.

UX design.

Programming of that UX design.


Perhaps, a better headline for S4's model would be that it, "cuts fat, bloated creative that are reliant on massive retainers providing questionable value, out of the loop altogether."

This ultimately may be bad news for the knight's successor. While the capabilities are right, the bloat is only getting bloatier.

Which is why nimble, independent shops with the right set of capabilities—like Traction—that bring value to brands without forcing them to pay for fluff will continue to thrive.

Infographic from Adweek

About the author
Adam Kleinberg

Adam Kleinberg is CEO and and a founding partner of Traction. He has written over 75 articles in publications like AdAge, Adweek, Fast Company, Forbes, Mashable and Digiday.

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Traction is a new breed of marketing agency and consultancy—a marketing accelerator for brands and their in-house teams.

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