NEWS10 July 2009

Sorrell casts gloomy eye on prospect of advertising recovery

North America

US— WPP CEO Martin Sorrell has predicted an “anemic and mild” recovery for the advertising market in 2010, but remains optimistic about the prospects for consumer insight.

In an interview with CNBC Sorrell said that business in April and May had been worse than in the first quarter of 2009 and that he doubted that the pattern would change for June. Sorrell mused that weak trade performance could be due to “midsummer lethargy” but nevertheless signalled that general confidence was “more downbeat than it was a few months ago”.

He felt that President Obama’s fiscal stimulus package was “as yet” not working and that there may be a need for “a little bit more”.

However, Sorrell was more bullish about the growth drivers for his own organisation, marking out consumer insight. “We think clients are very focused, particularly in these difficult times, understanding what consumers are thinking about, what we are driven by or not driven by – trying to understand that in better detail.” He also cited emerging markets and digital media as being key to WPP’s recovery plans.

He was speaking at the Allen & Co summit in Idaho, an event that gathers top executives in the media business.