Sorrell: Why PR agencies don't win more awards at Cannes

PRWeek executive editor Bernadette Casey sat down with WPP Group CEO Martin Sorrell in Cannes to discuss content creation, a surprising hot market, and PR awards at the festival.

Sorrell on content creation:
If you can develop content in a nanosecond, you can also be heavily abused very quickly.

PR agencies develop content. Media agencies think, quite rightly, they can develop content. Advertising agencies say don’t give it to the media or PR agencies. We all have to get used to the fact the client doesn’t mind where it comes from a long as they get a good solution. Clients couldn’t care less. They just want to be associated with success, and they want the best people working on the business.

On the future of Cannes:
Healthcare will be a full member at Cannes next year [rather than a prologue].

Data visualization will become part of the show, which is good news from our point of view.

On PR agencies winning at Cannes:
You have this nonsense from the PR industry that ad agencies win all the awards, but it is because the PR agencies don’t present the [entries] in the right way. It’s purely packaging. Ad agencies know more about presentation. And to be fair, they understand the linkages better. PR looks at it too narrowly. Also, [PR] budgets tend to be smaller and campaigns less global, which may attract less attention. 

On hot markets:
We live in a slow growth, post-Lehman market. Clients are looking at budgets until the faster growing markets recover their poise and the slow growth markets like France, Italy, and Spain really get going.

Iran is very interesting because of the fact that the US is discussing with Iran what should be done in Iraq. So are Cuba, Peru, and Nigeria. I like Germany, Poland, and Russia. The eastern part of Europe will become more and more important. 

On WPP:
April was a strong month. May was not as strong as April, but good. The first two months of the second quarter were stronger than the first quarter.  We are tracking revenue up 7% to 8% and gross margins up 4% in the second quarter.

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