WPP plc is a British multinational advertising and public relations company and the world’s largest advertising company. Its main management office is in London, England, and executive office in Dublin, Ireland. The company purchases goods and services from of suppliers around the world and spends around £6 billion a year on advertising production, research operations, facilities, IT and telecoms, travel and entertainment, and professional and recruitment services.
Its portfolio of services includes advertising, media investment management, public relations, public affairs, healthcare communications, specialist communications, branding and identity services, et cetera.
WPP started off as a maker of wire shopping baskets. Today, it is a world leader in communications, experience, commerce and technology.
In 1985, Sir Martin Sorrell took a controlling stake in a small UK manufacturer of wire baskets and teapots called Wire and Plastic Products, as the foundation on which to build an international advertising and marketing services group. The company was renamed simply “WPP”, with Sir Martin as its Chief Executive.
WPP grew quickly over the following decades, originally through extensive acquisitions and afterwards through organic growth alongside M&A.
WPP’s advertising agency company holdings comprise of the Grey Group, Ogilvy & Mather, Young & Rubicam Brands, Landor, Wunderman, and JWT.
WPP’s digital company holdings include Wunderman, Gorilla Group, Possible, AKQA, Geometry, OgilvyOne and VML.
WPP’s government lobbying and public relations company holdings including Hill+Knowlton Strategies, Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide, Burson-Marsteller, and Cohn & Wolfe.
WPP’s media investment management company holdings are operated by GroupM and include Mindshare, MEC.
WPP’s research insight and consulting companies comprise BMRB, Added Value, Kantar Video, Indian Market Research Bureau, Millward Brown, Management Ventures Inc., Research International.
Mark Read – Chief Executive Officer
Paul Richardson – Group Finance Director
The Board is collectively responsible for promoting the success of WPP by directing and supervising policy and strategy and is responsible to shareowners for the company’s financial and operational performance and risk management.
2012 shareholder revolt on executive remuneration
The media coverage of Martin Sorrell’s intended £12.93m compensation package attracted growing public attention. The result was a 59.52% shareholder vote to reject the resolution.
WPP goes to great lengths to lower its own corporate tax bill. The Guardian reported that between 2003 and 2009 the company paid £27m in UK corporation tax, compared to what the newspaper “might expect” based on reports of the firm making 15% of its profit in the UK, of around £126m.