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News Analysis

Martin Sorrell's S4 moves on Australian market as MediaMonks business hunts exec roles

By Josh McDonnell - Senior Writer

25 May 2020 3min read

By Josh McDonnell - Senior Writer

25 May 2020 3min read

Ex-WPP global boss Martin Sorrell appears to have his sights set on Australia once more, with S4 Capital's digital production and creative group MediaMonks scouting for top creative and growth directors in Australia - adding to its existing local martech and CX acquisition BizTech and the launch of S4's programmatic unit here last year, Mighty Hive.

What you need to know:

  • Martin Sorrell appears to have his sights set on expanding his Australian presence once more
  • S4 Capital's MediaMonks is scouting the market for key talent to lead its creative and business development
  • The creative and digital production shop is looking for a new Creative Director and Business Growth Lead
  • Both positions detail expectations for driving client acquisition in the region, with the candidates to be based out of Sydney
  • This will further strengthen MediaMonk's local foothold, following the acquisition of Melbourne CX agency BizTech and programmatic platform MightHive
  • S4 Chief Growth Officer Scott Spirit will continue to lead the acquisition charge in the region


A return to Australia

Martin Sorrell's S4 Capital is ramping up its expansion plans for the ANZ region, with creative and digital production agency MediaMonks hunting senior creative and business directors in Sydney.

According to job listings, the agency is scouting top talent to fill roles including Creative Director and what they call Business Growth Monks - which will be focused around driving client acquisition.

The growth roles are expected to "spearhead [MediaMonk's] new business, sales and growth efforts", with the ideal candidate having had leadership experience in a business development role with demonstrated success in strategic account development.

"Monks in this role must have experience managing a budget and architecting, designing and selling complex deals, while finding strategic ways to grow our existing projects and client relationships but also add new clients to the table," the job listing states.

For the creative director, MediaMonks states a strong focus on digital, creative technology, platform UX and design, experiential and content production is a must.

Mi3 understands that the hires in Sydney will act as a satellite office for MediaMonks' Singapore operations, with the growth role reporting into Tobias Wilson. Wilson took on the role as VP of Growth for Asia-Pacific over 12 months ago, joining from consultancy APD, which was acquired by ASX-listed business Trimatium Growth Ops.

"They could quite easily have a hub operation in Singapore and support a local [Australian] market expansion strategy until there is a requirement to scale up their respective operations locally, and not a minute sooner," an anonymous observer told Mi3.

"By hiring people who can be client-facing and focused on pinpointing growth opportunities, while interfacing with clients from the BizTech and MightyHive sides of the business, S4 can develop this matrix growth strategy."

Industry insiders have also stated that S4 continues to hunt Australian agencies, led by Chief Growth Officer Scott Spirit. Sorrell himself has also stated his intentions in recent weeks to hear more about "distressed companies" in S4's sector.

While he had pointed to global creative agencies R/GA and M&C Saatchi as examples of struggling businesses, it is understood that S4's main driver will continue to be in the digital space.


A digitally-led operation

In both job descriptions, a heavy focus on understanding digital transformation and production has been highlighted.

It is understood that the roles will work closely with S4's current local operations, which includes BizTech and MightyHive. 

A Melbourne-based CX and ANZ Digital Marketing Adobe Partner, BizTech was acquired by Sorrell in June last year and now operates under the MediaMonks brand.

While initial reports had BizTech revenue in the ballpark of $15 million annually, industry insiders told Mi3 it has since reached $30-40m under the ownership of Sorrell and S4.

MightyHive, a programmatic platform which allows for the management of campaigns, automation of workflows, and generation of cross-platform reports, alerts and insights have also been another inroad for S4 to sure up its place in Australia.

Another anonymous industry observer told Mi3 Sorrell's martech and programmatic offerings could open the door for S4 in the more traditional media and creative avenues.

"For example, a client is onboarded onto something like the Adobe platform and can now create and distribute messages to their customers on a much more sophisticated basis than they were before," they said.

"That automatically leads to asking a very important question around how is a client's programmatic media investment performing. If you look at what S4 has here in BizTech and MightyHive you can see the connection already."

Others believe that what MediaMonks would bring to the mix locally, and why a Creative Director was likely one of the first roles being hired for, is the ability to bridge the production side of the business with both the martech and programmatic offering.

This would be the easiest first step to start marking out its creative capabilities in Australia.

The roles are reportedly not expected to be filled by MediaMonks until later in the year, as the team deals with the ongoing impacts of COVID-19, however Mi3 understands that the team is still working through how it will structure its larger ANZ business.


Financials at a glance

Below are some of the key takeout from S4 Capital's first quarter growth for 2020:

  • S4 Capital has reported a 17% like-for-like increase in first quarter revenue to £71m, while on the same basis gross profit was up 19% to £60.7m.
  • First quarter revenue from the MightyHive programmatic and data and analytics practice rose to £14m, representing a like-for-like increase of 18%, while gross profit was £14.6m, up 17% like-for-like.
  • The MediaMonks digital content practice, accounting for almost four fifths of the business, saw revenue of £56.3m, up 17% like-for-like; and gross profit of £46.1m, up 19%.
  • Gross profit in Asia Pacific was £5.2m, up 21%.
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By Josh McDonnell - Senior Writer

25 May 2020 3min read