Davos Journal 2011

Sorrell on running a multinational

January 26, 2011: 3:40 PM ET
DAVOS/SWITZERLAND, 27JAN07 - Sir Martin Sorrel...

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A good ad man can summarize complex thoughts in a way that's understandable to anyone, even a journalist. Martin Sorrell, CEO of advertising conglomerate WPP, did just that Wednesday morning in explaining his approach to global investing for WPP's business. As part of a panel on the economy on the opening day of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Sorrell likened WPP's world view to the way U.S. football clubs are organized into divisions. The higher the division, the greater the investment focus:

First division: The BRIC countries of Brazil, Russia, India and China, plus other emerging markets. Despite WPP's historic strengths in the U.S. and Britain, these emerging markets are Sorrell's biggest current focus.

Second division: The U.S. and Germany. These are strong ad markets with relatively strong economies.

Third division: Continental Western Europe, with the United Kingdom potentially moving up to the second division if its fiscal austerity takes hold.

Fourth division: Japan. Sorrell says this fallen giant has suffered a "20-year stagnation with no signs of progress."

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Adam Lashinsky
Adam Lashinsky
Senior Editor at Large, Fortune

Adam Lashinsky is a San Francisco-based editor-at-large for FORTUNE, covering Wall Street and Silicon Valley. Lashinsky joined FORTUNE in 2001, after two years as a contributing columnist. Prior to joining FORTUNE, Lashinsky covered Silicon Valley for TheStreet.com and The San Jose Mercury News. A Chicago native, Lashinsky holds a B.A. in history and political science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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