When it comes to withering put-downs, WPP head honcho Sir Martin Sorrell is something of an old hand. The man, who is arguably the modern face of advertising, is possessed of a dry wit, however, that often translates to soundbites and headlines being blown way out of proportion. Such was the case once again earlier today (August 7), with Sorrell remarking that, despite a planned double spend on the enduringly popular, but undoubtedly troubled Snapchat this year, the holding company's commitment to the service was little more than a “flea on the elephant's backside.”
The comment, which follows news that WPP would be spending $200 million on Snapchat (twice the amount spent last year), reads to me, however, as Sorrell not dissing Snapchat, but simply finding a colourful way to analogize the sheer amount of money WPP are investing in digital and social media right now. By way of comparison, last year WPP spent a staggering $1.7 billion on Facebook buys, and plans to spend over $2 billion this year. When you stack the comparatively paltry $200 million to be spent on Snapchat up against that figure, the comment starts to make sense.
Sir Martin Sorrell
Sorrell also admitted that he actually prefers Snapchat over Facebook. Speaking on the CNBC “Squawk Box” show, he said that he thinks Snapchat is “potentially more competitive as the third force” behind Facebook and Google/YouTube. Sorrell also spoke about social media companies fighting the rise in extremist content and said that Facebook and Google are making significant steps but must remain vigilant.
Snapchat will need all the help it can get if it hopes to compete with the big boys this year. Snapchat owner Snap recently faced serious pressure from Facebook's Instagram, which last year replicated its Stories feature allowing users to share photos and videos to their followers, which then expire 24 hours after they were posted. With Sorrell in its corner, however, it certainly stands more of a chance as a service that stands alongside Facebook and Instagram, rather than behind them.
Benjamin Hiorns is a freelance writer and musician from Kidderminster in the UK.