Martin Sorrell: Hero of unbridled capitalism

Sir Martin Sorrell is a global superstar of entrepreneurship and hero of unbridled capitalism. But is he likely to become an election asset in the UK?

His business success is grounded in his deals that resulted in an acquisition of a wide range of the largest international advertising agencies, including Saatchi & Saatchi, and J Walter Thompson. His track record as entrepreneur and capitalist is noteworthy.

Although his business empire is built on creativity, his own skill is as a high-level financial innovator who found ways of releasing creativity of others in highly profitable ways.

As a Harvard MBA, and a governor of London Business School, his leadership makes a nice business school case.

This week [March 15th 2015] he made headlines with an annual bonus taking his earnings to £40 million.

The Independent reported:

Sir Martin Sorrell’s pay package is set to top £40m for last year after WPP, the advertising giant he founded, said that he was given £36m-worth of shares last week.

The shares were granted under a controversial long-term bonus plan called the Leadership Equity Acquisition Plan, or Leap, and which shareholders voted to abolish in 2012. The latest grant covers the five years from 2010 to 2015, when Sir Martin and 16 other executives received the maximum of five times their original investment in the scheme.

An electoral asset?

As the May General Election election approaches, political parties in the UK would like to enlist Martin Sorrell to assist their brand. They have to treat this hero of unbridled capitalism with care.

His enthusiasm for earning what he believes is his worth makes him a target for critics of his apparent disregard for cultural and political pressures on ‘fat cat’ remuneration packages.

His enthusiasm for Europe makes him a tricky poster-boy supporter of David Cameron’s Conservative party or of UKIP (whose Nigel Farage might otherwise have also been rather keen on claiming his support).

Labour and the other left-leaning parties (The Greens, SNP, Plaid Cymru) may find his unreconstructed style of capitalism difficult to deal with.

Paying his dues

Sorrell plays by rules he chooses. He appears to accept consequences of his decisions, and pays his dues. A much- publicized divorce was bankrolled by the sale of 45 million of his shares.

Brutalist Modern

In Design terms, he might be seen as a personality in the style of brutalist modern. His financial methods of wealth accumulation have a disregard for niceties of social responsibilities associated with characters in The Wolf of Wall Street. His philosophy is more Chicago than Harvard, with a dash of Ayn Rand for good measure.


You can see more biographic details of Sir Martin Sorrell in this earlier post to LWD

To be continued

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