Will.i.am clashes with Martin Sorrell over online ads in Cannes

Will.i.am clashes with Martin Sorrell over online ads in Cannes

Will.i.am clashed with Sir Martin Sorrell, the chief executive of WPP, and Google's top marketer Lorraine Twohill, over whether people skip online ads, at a breakfast debate at Cannes today.

The singer and producer was talking about the definition of advertising, questioning whether songs like Busta Rhymes’s Pass The Courvoisier could be included, when he said people skip traditional ads that interrupt content on platforms like YouTube.

Twohill and Sorrell both chimed in to disagree with Will.i.am, with Twohill citing a statistic that 87 per cent of ads on YouTube were watched. Will.i.am stuck to his argument and replied that if people were not skipping the ads, they weren’t paying attention to them either.

Will Lewis, the chief executive of Dow Jones, was also on the panel of speakers brought together by The&Partnership at Cannes today (25 June).

The talk, which was moderated by Johnny Hornby, The&Partnership’s chairman and chief executive, took place on a yacht and was billed as a discussion on about new models for the new world.

Twohill on tech companies taking over Cannes:

"I still think advertising is at the heart of it and that tech is just an enabler to help create stories. There’s still the same amount of passion and excitement around the work. For me tech is just an enabler. You can’t use it as a crutch."

Sorrell on Cannes:

"Cannes has morphed. Is it too much, too big, too mad? I think that’s something that should be looked at, frankly. But it’s also become much broader. The definition of creativity has broadened. We used to think about Don Draper creative directors when we talked about creativity but now 75 per cent of our business is stuff that Don Draper would not even recognise.

"We don’t just deal with chief marketing officers anymore, we deal with chief information officers and chief technology officers, and we will see more of them in the future."

Will.i.am  on the future of the music business:

"Music will always be music. Whether or not there’s going to be an industry is questionable. I don’t know if it’s going to make money going forward and this is because of mad tech. There were mad men and now there’s mad tech, and it has toppled our industry.

"More people listen to music than ever before but we have no hardware to sell. Now it’s all about adding value to the community. If you don’t do that in the future then you probably won’t be able to reach those communities. If you don’t add value then I don’t give a shit about your advertising."

Twohill on Google’s legal battles with the European Commission:

"We’re talking to everybody there and engaging with everybody there. Tech moves so fast and Brussels is not even in our top five issues. We have much bigger problems to deal with."

Sorrell on ad-blocking software:

"Use is 25 per cent, it needs third party software and it needs opt-in from consumers. There’s an ex-Google employee trying to beat it now, too. I’m not overly concerned about [ad blocking software]."

Will.i.am on success:

"Success is about adoption. Success is when someone goes on YouTube and says ‘hi, my name is Sarah and I’m going to play I’ve Got A Feeling’. Success is not money it’s about changing culture."

Sorrell on success:

"Success is when you see your competitors squirm."


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