WPP Chief Sorrell Agrees That Enfatico "Went Wrong"

Last Updated Sep 16, 2009 7:07 PM EDT

WPP chief Martin Sorrell agreed in an interview with Forbes India that his Enfatico experiment went wrong. Although Sorrell doesn't explicitly say that Enfatico is dead as a concept -- in fact he suggests the standalone agency model will only become more relevant in the future -- the way he answers the interviewer's questions suggests that he no longer regards Dell's custom-built, one-client shop as an agency, but simply as a large piece of Y&R. Here's the crucial segment:
In April this year you were forced to end the Enfatico experiment by folding it back into Y&R Brands. What went wrong?
The prime movers of the Enfatico experiment, the Dell CMO [chief marketing officer, Mark Jarvis] and Casey Jones [Dell's V-P of Global Marketing] who reported to him, both left Dell. So a lot of the impetus from those two obviously went with them. On the other hand, Erin Nelson, Dell's current CMO, and others certainly saw the benefits from a dedicated agency.
Sorrell then defends the concept some more before the next question:
Why didn't Enfatico work then? Because it's an extremely difficult thing to do. And the two prime movers behind it left Dell.
So the model is still pretty people dependant then? The people that took it over after the two prime movers left, Erin and the others, didn't see the need so sharply to tailor something so individually. They wanted Enfatico to feed off other group resources in a more intense way. So it is part of Y&R Brands, instead of being an isolated brand inside WPP.
The comments are interesting because when Enfatico was folded into Y&R Brands, the agency went to lengths to insist that it was not dead. Enfatico's blog has not been updated since June 9.

Completely unrelated: Dell paid a $4 million fine to the New York state attorney general for false advertising, among other sins. Not Enfatico's fault, but it doesn't help.

And finally: Check out Sorrell's comments about Campaign in the Forbes piece. He does not like that magazine!

Image: Enfatico CEO Torrence Boone