Sorrell on new WPP government, public affairs practice: "horizontality at work"

The quote reflected the WPP boss' comments at Cannes last year, when he noted that clients "don't care" where big ideas come from "as long as the best people are working on their business and coming up with the best ideas."

Here’s WPP Group CEO Martin Sorrell’s take on his holding company’s decision to launch a global cross-disciplinary government and public affairs practice: "it’s horizontality at work, where the verticals work together."

The group will be supported by Ogilvy Public Relations, Burson-Marsteller, and Hill+Knowlton Strategies.

Michelle Harrison, CEO of TNS BMRB and leader of the practice, told PRWeek on Monday that "on the very substantial global briefs, it is normal for WPP agencies to work together to support the client and deliver them the best possible solutions."

It wasn’t the first time Sorrell mentioned "horizontality" to PRWeek. Last spring at Cannes, the WPP boss said in a Q&A that horizontality is "good news, not bad news, because clients want the best people working on their business."

"[Clients] don’t care whether they come from a vertical. So they don’t care whether they come from JWT, Ogilvy, or Grey in advertising, or H+K, Burson, Cohn & Wolfe, Ogilvy Public Relations, RLM Finsbury, or Clarion," Sorrell said last June. "They don’t care, as long as the best people are working on their business and coming up with the best ideas."

Sorrell added that WPP’s advantage in numbers also helps it in terms of horizontality.

"We’ve got these horizontal integrators, 35 people running clients across the whole of WPP, including public relations, public affairs, and everything else. I can’t tell you what it’s going to do, what I hope it will do is make people inside the company leverage the knowledge they have in a more effective way for clients," he explained. "If Hill+Knowlton has 5,000 people, why limit yourself to 5,000 when you’ve got another 160,000. Even if we’re only averagely intelligent, and I don’t believe we are, the law of averages would mean there’s got to be some really good people out there."

Click here to read the full interview with Sorrell from Cannes 2013.

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