Sir Martin Sorrell

Sir Martin Sorrell is chief executive of WPP, the advertising group

Far too crowded. Probably 500 people over the top. Last year 2000 was heavy, 2600 is too many. Some can’t attend sessions even having tried to book online from home. Participant numbers should be reduced.

Security is also very tight, aggravated by the crush. There are heavy lines and queuing, especially early in the morning. On the other hand, this is not surprising with 40 country leaders present, many with large convoys.

Plane crammed with bankers, airline executives (appropriate), telecommunications CEOs from US, China, Bahrain and Britain. Found myself being pitched for business by a telecommunications company – boot on the other foot for a change. Need to pick up some tips.

On the face of it, there seem to be more policywonks this year than CEOs. With 40 government heads here this year, maybe this is in effect a warm-up for the G20 in London in April. In addition to the British prime minister, the chancellor of the exchequer, the foreign secretary and the business minister are all scheduled to be here. The prime minister’s business session on Friday sadly collides with the annual British lunch. Hopefully he can pop in, as he did last year.

Seems to be a considerable concern about conspicuous consumption. Any actors or actresses here seem come from faster-growing markets such as India or China.

Apparently half of the Swiss government  (4 of their 7 bundesrat) met the Chinese premier at Zurich airport as he landed in his Air China 747. The 747 towers above most others parked on the runway, where there is considerable private plane activity. Security very tight, with police and dogs patrolling. The usual anti-globalisation demonstrations seem to have taken place in Geneva a few days ago rather than in Davos – at least so far. According to reports, they were very low key. We clearly haven’t been able to communicate the benefits of free-trade and globalisation very effectively. With the pound at SFr1.6, maybe I should be demonstrating.

Sir Martin Sorrell is chief executive of WPP

Just limbering up for Davos and saving the world in four days up a Swiss alp in the snow in January – and it’s snowing today. Surprisingly there’s a record registration level of around 2,500 people, around 40 heads of government and key business people, trade unionists, expert advisors and NGOs – and the usual plethora of management consultants and investment banks. But everyone’s going to be more sombre this year – not so many parties or movie stars.

For the first time ever, after 20 or so years, all the four largest advertising and marketing services parent or holding companies are represented here. Perhaps a surprising fact – maybe some of us have just discovered the world. Although I’m sure a number of people will pull out at the last moment, due to the current economic pressures.

Davos blog 2009

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