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The death of choice for global brand owners

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An Elephant in the Room

Could it be that even Sir Martin Sorrell was a little shocked by the deca-billion consolidation of the ad industry? As Adage reported, August 27th at WPP’s half-year earnings conference he displayed a chart that naughtily painted the result of the future Publicis-Omnicom Group in a “sludgy brown colour” (his words).

He explained this is what you get when you mix the purple and orange corporate tints of the new Franco-American couple. He name-called it “POG”, and wished Maurice and John’s marriage trouble with regulatory approval.

Like a Che Guevara battling murky monopolies, comrade Sorrell defended the so-called collaborative “agency team” unite dogma for all. An anomaly designed years ago to help HSBC bank bring global order to the marketing of a disparate multi-local financial services group built by acquisition, now generalised into a single client-catch-all. Like a Richard Branson rebelliously standing up for customer rights and delights, he astonishingly dismissed scale in global creative services as a bad thing!

WPP is nothing if not a consolidated top-down empire. The performance was a smart, funny, cynical piece of propaganda to differentiate what in effect are monopolies jointly cornering over 70% of world client spend.

Jaded perhaps but not blind (clients have gone through their own ruthless series of consolidation and restructuring), the industry knows the next round, if it happens, could push the needle into the 90s.

The elephant in the room Mr. Sorrell deliberately ignored is the only one of real significance to brand owners and that is ‘the death of choice’. (more…)

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