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."
As Western companies duke it out for a piece of the developing-market pie, Procter & Gamble is going deeper -- courting not just the newly rich but also the very poor. The company's vaunted R&D operation is turning up surprises.
By Jennifer Reingold, senior editor
We are a long, long way from Cincinnati. Getting here required a 15-hour flight to Beijing, followed by a nearly three-hour flight to Lanzhou, an industrial city MOREJan 6, 2011 5:00 AM ET
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