Raahil Chopra
Jun 19, 2023

Cannes Lions 2023: 'India under PM Modi is an interesting country and under-appreciated' - Sir Martin Sorrell

The founder and executive chairperson of S4 Capital discussed 'communication problems', along with AI and the Metaverse on day one of the festival

Cannes Lions 2023: 'India under PM Modi is an interesting country and under-appreciated' - Sir Martin Sorrell

Sir Martin Sorrell, founder and executive chairperson, S4 Capital, took to the stage on day one of the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity to discuss what’s currently happening in digital along with predictions for the near future.


Before getting into those predictions, Sorrell labelled the world as a ‘crazy place’ right now, and called out the three major issues in the world currently:


  • The US-China conflict
  • Russian Imperialism
  • Iran nuclear capability


Calling these three issues ‘communication problems’ Sorrell went on to add how climate change, DE&I and ESG also remain challenges.


“Purpose has taken a back seat because of these three issues. There’s a shift in the balance of power and the next few years will be very different from the last 50,” he said.


Talking about how the world is currently operating, Sorrell spoke about the importance of South American countries growing to be big technical hubs.


He stated how China and the question marks around it can benefit India.


“Under PM Narendra Modi, India is an interesting country. It’s under-appreciated in the world right now”, he said.


He also spoke about the emergence of the Middle East with a focus on Saudi Arabia in particular.


“We have seen their deal in Golf, and now they’ve just gone ahead and signed a 26-year-old footballer (Ruben Neves). It’s a very clever way of repositioning the country. Saudi Arabia and the Middle East will become more important in the future,” he said.


While Sorrell stated that Africa is facing a lot of volatility, he mentioned that countries like Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa have a lot to offer to the world stage.


Coming back to APAC, he said, “China has question marks because of the situation right now. We are seeing companies like Apple and Tesla moving to the likes of Mexico instead for production.”


He also stated that many of S4 Capital’s clients believe Europe’s growth is ‘low volume’.


The new normal


According to Sorrell, ‘the new normal’ will see GDP growth lower and inflation will be higher.


“As a result of this, interest rates will be higher. That means clients will not be getting the growth margins they require. This also means that there will be higher digital acceleration,” said Sorrell.


He estimated digital ad spends to reach around 75% of the total advertising spends by the year 2025.


While, he called the Metaverse a ‘very sexy but much-hyped area to be in’ during the Lions last year, he said that the criticism its getting is unwarranted as it’s doing well for the industries such as health and sport.


He added that Cryptocurrency and NFTs got too much play in the year gone by and now they’re getting lesser prominence. 


He was extremely bullish about AI (artificial intelligence) and AGI (artificial general intelligence). 


“AI is bringing in fear. But AI and AGI give us immense capability. The fear is because of job losses. Automation was supposed to do that, but that didn’t happen. We are seeing AI and AGI reducing the time taken to create creative work which took a couple of weeks down to an hour. It’s allowing hyper-personalisation at scale,” he said.


Sorrell did add that there’s going to be a big shift in the media buying space.


“It won’t need a huge workforce. Why would a client trust a 25-year-old media buyer over an algorithm? AI and AGI will increase the knowledge across organisations and empower more of the workforce to access it,” he said.


Sorrell ended his talk by discussing the importance of agility and first-party data and asked clients to take back control.


“Agility is spoken about, but rarely implemented. Clients have to take back control. They need to move certain jobs back in-house. With the sources of third-party data reducing, first-party data has to be used more effectively, and that’s why clients that have access to the data, need to move back some operations in-house,” he surmised. 




Campaign India

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