The Changing Face of Global Advertising Networks

Apr 15, 2018

All change! With the departure of Sir Martin Sorrell, there’s going to be changes at WPP and I hope, opportunities for independent networks like Tribe Global.

Several years ago, I sat next to Sir Martin at a Marketing Society Scotland dinner and had the pleasure of introducing him. I was asked to provide a brief resume of his career, which was particularly challenging as there was nothing brief. He was a man of boundless energy and was able to conduct what seemed like intimate, one-to-one’s with all the clients round the table. An enviable skill. 

But a lot has happened since then! 

WPP has lost a third of its share value in the last few months. At the same time, it has found it increasingly difficult to compete with mega-platforms such as facebook and google.

WPP is very different from the independent networks. In trying to meet the new challenges, they kept adding more and more companies in what looks like an insatiable desire for growth. But when I talk to clients they are not all looking for size, they are looking for talent, creativity and the ability to respond and move quickly. Summed up - they are looking for smart solutions.

I’ve often been asked if independent networks and their agencies are more at risk from global change, whether that be political, economic, cultural or social than the multi-national networks. My answer has always been no, but with recent events it’s an even more definite no.

Independent agencies that are truly local are more likely to have their fingers on the pulse of a country as their people have a vested interest in the success of their country.

Independent agencies tend to be more agile and nimble and are able to move and change much faster than the likes of WPP. That’s what independent is all about. 

Recently, I read a very thought-provoking article by Joy Bhattacharya from Accenture Interactive talking about the role of agencies and how agencies need to establish the disruptor vision. As WPP will testify we are in an age of disruption. For Tribe Global this age of disruption is a positive because agility and quick decision-making beats size and scale. The culture of agencies is incredibly important – at Tribe Global we talk about working together because we want to, not because we have to. And finally, whilst Independent networks are making huge leaps forward we are still challenger brands, which suits us as today challenger brands are increasingly well positioned to take on and win against the industry behemoths.

Ian Wright | Managing Director, Tribe Global.