KOCHI : New Delhi: Martin Sorrell, who founded S4 Capital after he was ousted from WPP Plc last year, said that the India unit of his new advertising venture will start operations by the end of the week.

“We got the leader on board and we will start off in the digital content area. Although I don’t have an exact number, the India team will be a very strong team. S4 Capital is currently more than 1,200 people strong globally," Sorrell said in an interview, adding that India will be the 17th country in which his new venture will have operations. The advertising veteran spoke on the sidelines of International Advertising Association’s World Congress being held in Kochi from 20-22 February.

Sorrell was ousted from WPP in April last year following investigation into allegations of personal misconduct. He had built WPP into the world’s largest advertising holding company. Sorrell, however, started again by launching S4 Capital just weeks after leaving WPP. The advertising venture is focused on data, digital content driven by data and programmatic media buying with an objective to deliver faster and effective solutions by leveraging technology.

In July, Sorrell outbid WPP to acquire Dutch digital advertising and production agency Media Monks for $340 million which marked his return to the advertising world. In December, he bought San Francisco-based programmatic advertising firm MightyHive for $150 million.

“Last year we had revenues of around $150 million and Ebitda of $30 million. Analysts are looking at $225 million this year with an Ebitda of around $45 million and a market cap of $600 million. This is all organic growth without any acquisitions. So, I would say a good start for a seven or eight months old company," he said.

Ebidta is earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization.

Globally, S4 Capital has won several blue chip clients in the last few months, including Apple, Google, Adidas, Johnson & Johnson, Netflix, Starbucks and Nestle.

“We are pitching to Indian clients as well and new partners will be revealed in due course. I feel India as a market has been underestimated globally. It’s good that IAA is being conducted in the country and Piyush Pandey is heading the creative mandate of Ogilvy globally," Sorrell said.

“The Indian market is quite sophisticated and is probably different than other markets because it’s more traditional media-based. The digital revolution is still to come or the significance of it is yet to be realized. The importance of technology is becoming so evident with the rise of company like Reliance (Jio). For us, India is a big focus market both from digital and scale point of view."

A recent advertising forecast for India put out by WPP-owned media agency GroupM estimated that in 2019, 37% of the incremental advertisement spending will go towards digital. GroupM expects digital advertisement expenditure will grow by 30% to reach 16,038 crore this year making it the go-to choice for advertisers across categories.

India, as a market, is the fastest growing advertisement market in the world and the third highest contributor to incremental advertisement spending, behind China and the US, the report said. 

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