He highlighted the instance when actor Shah Rukh Khan, in a previous session, had referred to India as a 'developing' nation. However, Sir Martin begged to differ and said that India and China, apart from the other BRIC nations were already 'developed', in his opinion. A more suitable term, he said, would be to call the countries 'faster growing'.
Speaking about the advertising industry, Sir Martin said that the topline growth for the global advertising industry in 2009 was negative, while it steadily got better in the last six months. He believes that there is a certain stability if one were to take January and February of 2010 into consideration. He said, that while China is showing a strong GNP growth of 8%, India's GNP is already expected to grow in double digits.
Commenting about digital, Sir Martin believes that currently, digital advertising is more promotional in nature than into brand building, per se. According to him, it is a complete mistake to isolate digital advertising, from traditional. To illustrate this point, he cited the example of how at the Super Bowl, digital giant Google's TV commercial was judged the best Super Bowl commercial of the year. He finds it interesting that a digital company like Google used traditional advertising to get its message across to its target group.
Before wrapping up the session, Sir Martin summed up why he is bullish on advertising and the marketing services industry, based on what is happening in the world right now. He cited globalisation as one of the key factors, with the massive shift in economic power to places such as China and India. Next, he said that the recession has surely made America stronger, making it bounce out of bankruptcy and come out from it. In addition, Sorrell warned that that there will be no shortage in productivity, but in people and talent.
Thirdly, Sir Martin claimed that digital is one of the driving forces of his optimism. Next, he cited the shift of companies to a more global focus and co-ordination. He said that the complexity of a company makes it bigger, citing the recent merger of Kraft Foods and Cadbury as an example. He thinks there is a greater need for companies to have proximity to the government, understanding research and a focus on country-by-country organisation.
Another factor is corporate social responsibility. To illustrate this point, he highlighted the example of Bill Gates and Warren Buffet's coming together to establish the Bill Gates Foundation, among others as an example where a large company does 'good' and in turn, good business. Sir Sorrell stated that 'doing good' does not hinder long-term profitability. For instance, to travel less and contribute to reduce the carbon footprint, companies could get tele-presence equipment installed, which not only helps in being eco-friendly, but is also profitable to the company. He says it's not just about doing good, but doing good business.
Lastly, he said that the fact that the government of the UK, for instance, is one of the largest advertisers of the country is a good sign. He believes there is a reason to cheer when the government is a major factor in stablilising world economy.