How does real change and innovation happen? When that guy down the hall who doesn’t even have an office yet gets the corner office. Well, that’s what Sir Martin Sorrell told me. And then he proved himself wrong when he acquired Media Monks, which was the equivalent of his buying 5 levers for himself. The moral of the story is: YOU DON’T HAVE TIME TO WAIT FOR YOUR PEOPLE TO CATCH UP TO INNOVATION. YOU NEED IT NOW. Read below to see what I mean.

A few years ago, Sir Martin Sorrell, then head of WPP (the world’s largest ad conglomerate), stopped by Twitter for a conversation with some of the staff. At one point, he opined that “the internet is widely seen as a very inefficient Ad spend.”

I raised my hand. “Sir Martin, with all due respect, I can’t imagine a more inefficient ad spend than a 30-second ad on broadcast television. And yet, TV remains a 75 billion dollar industry. We keep hearing that the money is eventually going to flow into digital… when will that happen?”

Sir Martin replied (I’m paraphrasing), “Okay, here’s how this works. You’re the President of some major Ad agency. You’ve worked all your career to get to the corner office. One day, your phone rings and the head of Procter and Gamble calls you and says ‘I need to sell 10% more Tide next quarter, or we BOTH lose our jobs.’

“You have 5 levers that you use to accomplish that. They might be print, tv, radio, outdoor, and maybe — just maybe — one of them is digital. But you know what works — that’s how you stay in the corner office. So, you start pulling the levers. Next quarter, you sell 11% more Tide and you stay in the job.

“Eventually, you leave. Now, the younger person in the office down the hall has 5 levers, and two or three of those levers are digital. That’s what’s going to get them into the corner office.

“Outside THAT office is someone who doesn’t even have an office and a door yet. They have 5 levers, and all of them are digital. When that person gets into the corner office — in 7 years or so from now — the money will shift in a very drastic way from TV to digital. But not before then.”

So where are we today? You can’t wait. You have to buy / acquire or discover the most innovative people you can today. Change is happening at the speed of now. 

Fred Graver

Fred Graver

I’m a consultant for organizations that have to succeed at the intersection of traditional and digital media. I help these organizations understand the opportunities available on both ends of the media spectrum and help to create powerful content that achieves real business goals across multiple platforms. I can be reached through the contact form on this site.