S4 Capital Executive Chairman Sir Martin Sorrell used a MAD//Anywhere keynote to present a positive outlook for the advertising industry in 2021 – but he warned businesses it’ll be a case of growth or broke.

“If you dropped 10-20% in Q2 this year then the comparables are next to nothing. If you can’t grow next year you never will,” said Sir Martin.

“2021 will be the year of even more accelerated technological transformation. It is the V-shaped sectors which are really going to be the ones which benefit,” he added.

Sir Martin also revealed S4’s plans to grow revenue and add to its 3,000-strong workforce by winning more ‘whopper’ accounts in excess of £20m. In September, MediaMonks delivered a major coup for S4 by capturing BMW and Mini’s consolidated European content and production account. Earlier this month, S4 posted a 13% quarterly increase in billings to £163.1m, defying challenging trading conditions for agency groups.

In a provocative interview with New Digital Age Editor Justin Pearse., Sir Martin described WPP’s plan to merge AKQA and Grey into the AKQA Group as “management by spreadsheet”, describing the move as “rushed and confusing”.

Sir Martin ended the interview by calling on CMOs to take back control of marketing, embrace agility and value first-party: “Unfortunately finance and procurement have forced marketing down the ladder and we have to re-establish it – particularly in an online environment.”

Sir Martin was a headline speaker at the first ever MAD//Anywhere, a virtual spin-off of MAD//Fest London.

Over 3,000 attendees tuned into two action-packed days featuring speakers including Boots CMO Kristof Neirynck, Futurists Shivvy Jervis and Tom Goodwin, and Ogilvy Vice-Chairman Rory Sutherland. The event also featured live £20k innovation pitches from Diageo and McCormick.

MAD//Fest will be making the session content available on-demand over the coming weeks.