The evolution in Advertising through the years

In the modern era advertising bears no similarity to the Mad Men portrayal — the advertising Don Drapers have been replaced by big data and the people who deal with it. Professor John Deighton, author of the case “WPP: From Crazy Men to Math Men (and Women),” and Sir Martin Sorrell, founder and group chief executive of WPP and the protagonist in the case, address how WPP has proven popular in the modern advertising world order, where algorithms and robots reign.

Advertising in the digital age bears no resemblance to the Mad Man image, but those who are in the industry today may argue that we are in the midst of the next Golden Age, one marked by the delicate balancing of art and science, innovation and analytics. Today we’ll hear from Professor John Deighton, the speaker, and Sir Martin Sorrell, the narrator, in the case study, entitled “WPP: From ‘Mad Men’ to Math Men (and Women).” (Note editor: this case is not yet open to the public.) I’m your host, Brian Kenny, and you’re listening to Cold Call.

We have undergone two revolutions, two evolutions. The former was at Saatchi, the latter at WPP. The plan was developed very much around four foundations, or four values. The first is horizontality, which is a horrible term, but it’s just about trying to create one business. That’s one of the major differences because we’re multi-branded, mostly for coping with consumer issues, whether they’re in packaged products, vehicles, pharmaceuticals or whatever they happen to be. So, first is horizontality. Develop one business, instead of 12, 13, 14 verticals.

Second, it’s fast-growing markets, a third of our sector. Asia, Latin America, Africa , the Middle East, Central and Eastern Europe, as the next billion customers must come here.

Third, digital is nearly 40 per cent of our business. You go back four years or so ago, 10 per cent of fast-growing markets. Today, they are a third. Digital has been essentially nil and is now approaching 40 per cent of our business, I would suggest.

Last but not least, data is analogous to physical. Which is our company at 25 per cent. Five billion of our sales out of $20 billion come from first-party estimates. This is not something that we buy from other nations. This is the material we deal with our customers on. It could be panel data, custom data, semi-syndicated data, syndicated data which we create with our customers.

These four pillars of theory are the policy that we are actually running.

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