By Drew Ianni
January 19, 2021


Martin Sorrell is one of our era’s great marketing and advertising leaders, but also something of a sage. His close attention to societal trends and the global economy makes him authoritative on a range of topics and issues but none is more top-of-mind than the acceleration of digital transformation brought on by the COVID crisis and resulting economic shut-down.

In a recent digital discussion with our sister brand, Techonomy, Sorrell made clear that we are seeing epochal changes, and that he saw three fundamental shifts underway. He summarized them: “At a consumer level, a media level and most importantly at an enterprise level, digital transformation will accelerate.” In discussing how the state of the consumer and what to expect as we slowly return to normal, Sorrell commented, “consumers, having experienced work from home, with all its challenges and its inadequacies and issues of mental health and child care…when they do go back to the office they will be using tech more aggressively and have changed their consumption patterns.”


And while Sorrell has been at the forefront of helping global brands and institutions thrive in the digital age, first as founder and CEO of the global marketing services firm, WPP, and now as the Founder and CEO of communications holding company S4 Capital, he is now convinced that “the long-delayed reckoning with digital—in which companies accept that they have to fundamentally restructure their businesses––has finally arrived.”. Now, Sorrell said, “enterprise managers will come to the view that the destruction that digital transformation threatened to what was a pretty good environment, doesn’t matter…they’ll take the bath, take the hit, write off those non-cash costs on the balance sheet and take the digital transformation.”

Martin Sorrell is a 40-year executive of the marketing and communications industry and has seen good times – and bad – in every corner of the globe. From pandemics and global terrorist acts to the birth of the Internet and a mobile revolution, Sorrell has seen it all and summed it all up saying, “You can’t compare this to anything else that I’ve been through…This is not like 2008. This is not like 9/11. This is not like the dotcom bubble bursting. This is not like ’91-’92 or the oil price crisis we experienced in the ‘70s. The closest analogy is wartime.”

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