Besides being ubiquitous in news media as the face of WPP and to some extent the entire agency world, Martin Sorrell was equally ubiquitous at client global meetings as his holding company's salesman-in-chief.
So will WPP's hold on clients fade away along with Sorrell? At least officially, clients have greeted the news of his retirement with a resounding "meh." Top clients including Procter & Gamble Co., Unilever, Johnson & Johnson, Ford Motor Co., Kimberly-Clark Corp. and Dannon either declined to comment, didn't respond to requests for comment, or said very little. A J&J spokeswoman said only: "Just want to confirm there is no change in our agency partnership."
But the reality is that Sorrell's departure is bound to make a difference to clients. He was legendarily "hands on" with his agencies and clients alike, known for relentlessly asking top marketer executives about their business challenges and needs, then trying to deliver solutions. Those included everything from creating client-specific shopper and consumer promotion groups for Unilever and K-C to building multidisciplinary agency teams for Ford and Colgate-Palmolive Co.