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Modi fits in the class of Barack Obama and JF Kennedy: Martin Sorrell

WPP chief executive feels India is the clear leader in the BRIC bloc, ahead of China, Brazil and Russia

By Shruti Venkatesh Forbes India Staff
Published: Oct 8, 2015

I love a good story, be it through advertisements, movies or an entrepreneur who dared to think differently. I believe in bringing in fresh perspectives -- to a corporate profile or a Facebook post -- like new wine in an even newer bottle. I graduated with a journalism degree from the Xavier Institute of Communications. My weekend rituals involve watching Bollywood movies and reading up on style trends.

Martin Sorrell, chief executive, WPP  said,
Image: Mexy Xavier
Martin Sorrell, chief executive, WPP said, "Modi is a great leader, communicator and fits well in the class of Barack Obama and J F Kennedy. He is very important from India's point of view or for that matter for people like us who have very big business in India,” at a press meet in Mumbai yesterday

Sir Martin Sorrell, the chief executive of the world’s largest communication agency,  WPP, is more bullish about India under Narendra Modi than ever before. Sorrell, who was in Mumbai recently to launch a marketing initiative said, “India is the last standing BRIC (the bloc constituting Brazil, Russia, India and China) or the last brick in the wall. If you were to grade the BRICS, in my view, India would be the clear number one, followed by China, Brazil and Russia,” he said.

Sorrell, who met Modi during the PM’s visit to the Silicon Valley, said he was a man with a powerful vision and made an incredibly strong start to his stint. He added that Modi was in a strong position because “at the moment one doesn't see any alternative”.

“Modi is a great leader, communicator and fits well in the class of Barack Obama and JF Kennedy. He is very important from India’s point of view or for that matter for people like us who have very big business in India,” he said. But he also acknowledged that there will be several challenges while navigating the largest democracy in the world.

Sorrell was in Mumbai to announce the formation of India’s largest experiential marketing network—Geometry Global Encompass Network (GGEN), a collaboration between Geometry Global and Encompass, the world’s and one of India’s biggest experiential marketing companies respectively. With around 400 employees in Mumbai and Delhi, the network will specialise in shopper marketing, rural marketing, large-scale events and exhibitions, urban consumer marketing, digital activation and field marketing.

Sorrell was also bullish about the growth of his group in the country, where WPP had clocked in revenues of about $600 million a year. “We are very aggressive in terms of growth in India. In terms of revenues, it will be over 10 percent and compares well with 5 percent revenue growth worldwide,” he said.

While India lags China in terms of WPP’s revenues (China fetches them a whopping $1.6 billion) despite a greater market share (45 percent against China’s 15 percent), Sorrell feels the difference is due to the fact that India is under-branded’ and ‘under-advertised’ as compared to its GDP. “You have to cover all channels,” he said.

He further said WPP is looking to grow organically in the country. “It is difficult for us in India, when you are at $600 million revenues, growing at 10 percent. You really can't find acquisitions of $60 million in India. Having said that, you did see us do a new acquisition recently,” he said. (Cohn & Wolfe, which is part of the WPP group, recently acquired majority stake in Six Degrees PR and Alphabet Consulting).

Sorrell feels the stagnant global economy will continue to be so in 2016, with tepid toplines, GDP and little or no inflation but the year can bring better tidings for advertising due to the Olympics, the US presidential election and the Euro finals.

But the fear of companies turning away from investments in the long term is what keeps him awake at night. “If you are running a legacy business, which in part we are at WPP, the issue is how you change the engines on the airplane while still flying,” he said.  

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  • Dr Vasant Khisty

    I have been watching politicians talk. I have seen speeches of Clinton, George Bush , Obama and I use to appreciate the content of discussion along with the humour packaged around it. I saw the speech given in English by Mr Modi during the visit of Mr Obama to India and i was impressed that without looking at the paper chit he was using words that the best of economist in the world would use. I appreciate the practice he must have gone through in order to make his speech error less. Yes i do believe in terms of capabilities and efforts that mr Modi is individually putting ranks with the best in the world

    on Oct 10, 2015
  • Shantha Kumari

    the common makes the familiar and most popular pm for the vast democratic country is not an ordinary issue also he unanimously win the connfidence of poor innocent indians , the american president barack obama well aware of the indian political situation and its problems [ india\'s unsolved internal as well as external extrme poverty ] and also our pm narendra modi as soon becomes the pm wants to follow the familiar attitude of world boss and also the old democratic policies also required our country in all respects , so the leader who makes pm with all the problems and his aspiration to remove the poverty from india and also required the cooperation of world boss is requied in each and every step .......................so i thought we are always have high gratitude on usa and its president we are also very thankful to usa where our pm honoured and respected it brings very great dignity within the country as well as world

    on Oct 9, 2015
  • Narender Singh

    Mr Modi is a great leader in the world he has given the lots suggestion about to stop the terrorism and global warming

    on Oct 9, 2015
  • Brijesh Shukla

    INDEED He came to change the boards of world politics :-)

    on Oct 9, 2015
  • Dharmvir Baundwal

    Nice comments every places in USA & UNGA. It is a big achievement as PM Modi best leader with best policies, since independence. India is a complex nation with massive tasks to achieve. Incredible PM Sir. Congrats!

    on Oct 9, 2015
  • Robin Chatterjee

    An incredible country with an incredible visionary leader Sri. Narendra Modi.

    on Oct 9, 2015
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