TROUBLE & STRIFE
My wife is Chinese, her father had two wives.
This was quite conservative by the standards of the day.
When she was at school, the other children came from families of three, four, even five wives.
I remember talking to someone she’d been at school with.
He told me his father had married three sisters, one after the other.
I asked him if the sisters didn’t mind.
He laughed and said they practically arranged it.
I asked how could anyone want to share their husband with their sisters?
He said that was just Western thinking.
In Chinese thinking, it was much safer to have your husband marry your sisters.
If he married a stranger he might prefer her to you.
Then she might take his wealth for her own children, and there would be none left for you or yours.
But if he married your sisters, it didn’t matter which one he preferred.
Because you were all family.
The sisters would share it amongst themselves and look after each other.
Whatever happened all the wealth would stay in the family.
This is certainly logical.
It’s also the Martin Sorrell principal of advertising.
Suppose you were a client with a very large budget or a prestigious brand.
Suppose you’ve got some problems at your agency.
Nothing serious, but you’re worried the advertising might be getting a bit stale.
Maybe they’ve had several goes at a new campaign but haven’t got there yet.
You might be wondering if you should at least look at some other agencies.
Should you call the AAR?
Just to see if there’s anything better out there.
Now let’s look at that from Martin Sorrell’s POV.
Say your account is at JWT.
They’ve done a great job for years, but they’ve had three goes at a new campaign and they haven’t got there yet.
Before you begin to think of the AAR, the phone rings.
Martin Sorrell, or one of his earthly representatives, is on the line.
He says “We’ve been thinking, isn’t time to goose JWT up just a bit? Just to see if there’s any fresher thinking out there.
How about if Ogilvy, Y&R, and Gray had a look at your campaign, along with JWT of course?”
And you’ve got a pitch.
You’re thinking “Wow. Four of the biggest agencies in town, with some great people, looking at my account.”
And with those four agencies you’re going to get a really good pitch.
You can’t lose.
And neither can Martin Sorrell because they’re all his agencies.
Whichever one you pick, your account stays in WPP.
By pre-empting your pitch, by giving you a great choice, you never need to go anywhere else.
And your media buying stays where it is, with MediaCom.
By having all his agencies buy media through one shop, he gets great deals for his clients.
Whichever one of his agencies you’re at.
So there’s far less pressure on everyone.
He pre-empts the pitch by offering a pitch.
Whatever happens, he wins the pitch.
Because whoever wins the account, WPP keeps it.
It stays in the family.