Sir Martin Sorrell Discusses the Global Complexities of 2024 and the Realities Now Facing the Ad Industry
6 mins read

Sir Martin Sorrell Discusses the Global Complexities of 2024 and the Realities Now Facing the Ad Industry

Sir Martin Sorrell possesses the exceptional ability to seamlessly integrate macro geopolitical issues and technological trends with his deep understanding of marketing, advertising, and media. Plus, he has decades of experience interpreting the significance of an industry’s evolution, first-hand.  Certainly, one of the many things that drives him as a CEO is being forthright about current realities.

Following his annual January visits to both CES and the World Economic Forum, he shared his views on the complexity of world events in 2024 and how they impact brand building and business growth in a complicated “post-digital” era where the efficiencies of tech are now central to running any company. 

As always, his thoughts are well worth consideration.  And while he can be scathing at times, particularly when discussing agency holding companies or even Gen Z, Sir Martin Sorrell continues to navigate with abundant information and expresses his views unambiguously and without false optimism.


When considering the world in 2024, Sir Martin Sorrell sees a lessening of the globalization that fueled the worldwide expansion of many successful corporations and high-growth brands during the past several decades. From the impact of multiple crises to increased support for greater national self-sufficiency, world trade has been slowing. However, he believes there are key markets and regions with strong growth potential. They include the tech-savvy countries of Latin America like Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay, the Middle East, particularly Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Qatar, and the giants of India and Indonesia.

“The world is shifting,” he says, “with a rebalancing of power, especially given the rise of India and the changing dynamics in Asia. By 2050, three of the top five economies will be Asian, and it is projected that they will be– in order: China, The United States, India, Indonesia, and Germany. To ensure sustained growth, businesses must adapt to these changes.”


Given the current complexity of world events and a general sense of uncertainty that often leads to short-term thinking, he believes there are better answers than efforts at simplification. In his view, the advertising business must be about managing complexity while also working to understand many new disciplines and opportunities during unprecedented change. He advises marketers: “Be agile; Take back control; Focus on first-party data.”

To learn more from Sir Martin Sorrell about his perspectives on the world’s current realities and how they are affecting the advertising business, watch the video interview on Internationalist Marketing TV (IMTV) on YouTube by CLICKING HERE.


No conversation would be complete today without mention of AI, and S4Capital’s Media.Monks was selected as Adweek’s AI Agency of the Year for “its ability to increase efficiencies … and harness deeper human insights that can augment creativity instead of diluting it.”

Without question, Sorrell believes that AI is already revolutionizing advertising in terms of greater efficiency in areas like copywriting and visualization and increased personalization through the production of multiple creative executions. He also foresees greater productivity, an interconnected workforce through shared knowledge, and better work-life balance.

In our conversation, we discuss the following:

  • Why don’t we start with your recent visits to CES and Davos. You’re a veteran of both events. Other than conversations about Generative AI, what were the top impressions you took away from both?
  • What are the most urgent items on your radar for 2024 for the marketing/advertising community?
  • Gen AI looks like it will be a long-term “disruptive” technology and not a “shiny object,” especially for marketers and agencies. What’s your advice regarding the benefits and risks?
  • You’ve often talked about how brands are looking to execute better, cheaper, faster… Would you add anything else to that list today?
  • Many marketers also talk about the greater need for talent– both on the client side as well as the agency side. Or is there something else you’d put at the top of your list?
  • How would you characterize client-agency relationships now? Are they becoming more complex due to so much technological and social change? 
  • There’s no question that agencies have been transforming over the last several years to meet new client needs and shifting consumer behaviors. Do you think the role of agencies has fundamentally changed?
  • What’s ahead for S4 Capital this year?
  • What ONE WORD (or phrase) do you believe will characterize the coming year?

Listen to Sir Martin Sorrell and his comments on the world’s current realities and how they affect the advertising business and to The Internationalist’s entire Trendsetters podcast series here on iHeartRadio’s Spreaker or wherever you download your podcasts.

S4 Capital plc (SFOR.L) is the tech-led, new age/new era digital advertising, marketing and technology services company, established by Sir Martin Sorrell in May 2018.

Its strategy is to build a purely digital advertising and marketing services business for global, multinational, regional, and local clients, and millennial-driven influencer brands. This will be achieved by integrating leading businesses in three practices: Content, Data & digital media, and Technology Services, along with an emphasis on ‘faster, better, cheaper, more’ execution in an always-on consumer-led environment, with a unitary structure.

The Company now has approximately 8,550 people in 32 countries with approximately 70% of revenue across the Americas, 20% across Europe, the Middle East and Africa and 10% across Asia-Pacific. The longer-term objective is a geographic split of 60%:20%:20%.

Sir Martin was CEO of WPP for 33 years, building it from a £1 million ‘shell’ company in 1985 into the world’s largest advertising and marketing services company, with a market capitalisation of over £16 billion on the day he left. Prior to that Sir Martin was Group Financial Director of Saatchi & Saatchi Company Plc for nine years.

Sir Martin supports a number of leading business schools and universities, including his alma maters, Harvard Business School and Cambridge University, and a number of charities, including his family foundation. He has been nominated as one of the TIME 100: The Most Influential People and received the Harvard Business School Alumni Achievement Award.