The Big Story: Sir Martin Sorrell’s Botanical Curiosity

The Big Story podcast

What’s a coco de mer? A double coconut, which is what Martin Sorrell is cultivating with S4.

The holding company he once described as a peanut grew into a coconut – also his description – when it acquired MediaMonks in June. With its second acquisition with MightyHive on Tuesday, the coconut has doubled up.

From peanut to coconut to coco de mer, the AdExchanger team examines Sorrell’s agricultural improbability on this week’s “The Big Story.”

AdExchanger editor Alison Weissbrot unpacks S4: What’s in it so far, and what does Sorrell still need?

MediaMonks and MightyHive are two very different types of acquisitions. The first, which S4 bought for $350 million, is an agency focused on digital production. The second, costing $150 million, is a programmatic consultancy that helps brands take their activation in-house.

Those synergies, however, make sense. Despite programmatic’s obsession with data and targeting, creative goes just as far – if not further – in determining an ad’s effectiveness. In marrying the two disciplines, S4 has a very powerful combination.

Certainly Sorrell isn’t the first to try to harness this capability. His former company WPP merged venerated creative agency J. Walter Thompson with its data agency Wunderman just a few weeks ago to create Wunderman Thompson.

But S4’s advantage is that it can start fresh: Neither MightyHive nor MediaMonks have decades of entrenched culture to work through, nor are they being merged. Each will work together but act independently within S4.

Also on the roundtable, WPP’s GroupM revised its 2019 ad spend forecast downward, while IPG’s Magna raised its outlook. What gives?

While digital is a massive catalyst, the team goes deeper to look at what areas within digital might exert the most pull in the year to come.

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