Group history

Below is an abbreviated history of WPP.

  • For the sixth consecutive year, WPP named Holding Company of the Year at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity
  • WPP ranked Most Effective Holding Company in the Effie Global Effectiveness Index for the fifth year running
  • For the second year running, WPP named WARC’s most effective holding company
  • Martin Sorrell named Britain’s joint most impressive business person, according to Ipsos MORI’s Captains of Industry survey of more than 100 senior leaders of the UK’s top 500 companies
  • WPP and STW merge in Australia and New Zealand to create the region’s largest communications services group
  • WPP Africa Academy launched, the third major education initiative globally
  • Martin Sorrell ranked No. 5 in the Harvard Business Review’s 100 Best-Performing CEOs in the World
  • WPP launches global Sports Practice
  • For the fifth consecutive year, WPP named Holding Company of the Year at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity
  • WPP ranked Most Effective Holding Company in the Effie Global Effectiveness Index for the fourth year running
  • WPP leads US$250 million investment round in George Pyne's Bruin Sports Capital
  • WPP launches global Government & Public Sector Practice
  • For the fourth consecutive year, WPP named Holding Company of the Year at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity
  • WPP ranked Most Effective Holding Company in the Effie Global Effectiveness Index for the third year running
  • Following changes to the UK Government's tax policy, WPP moves HQ back to London, from Dublin
  • For the third year in a row, WPP named Holding Company of the Year at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity
  • WPP ranked Most Effective Holding Company in the Effie Global Effectiveness Index for the second year running
  • WPP links up with D&AD in workshop and apprenticeship programs for young creative talent
  • Strategic partnerships and acquisitions in new markets and digital media continue to strengthen Group
  • For the second year running, WPP was named Holding Company of the Year at the 2012 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity
  • WPP ranked the Most Effective Holding Company in the 2012 North American Effie’s Effectiveness Index Rankings
  • Acquisitions and investments continue in strategically-important geographic markets and disciplines, including a stake in multinational retail marketing agency, Barrows and the acquisition of the world's top independent digital agency, AKQA
  • GroupM named Holding Company of the Year in the Gunn Report for Media
  • The Group’s international footprint increases to 110 countries, with Ogilvy & Mather taking a stake in Myanmar’s Today Advertising
  • WPP forms The Data Alliance, a cross-Group initiative to help clients interpret and get value from big data
  • In December 2012, Martin Sorrell named Britain's Most Admired Leader by Management Today and received the UK Marketing Society's Outstanding Leadership Award
  • WPP develops further its presence in Africa with additional stakes in Mindshare South Africa and Ogilvy South Africa
  • WPP Digital combines four of its interactive agencies, Schematic, Bridge Worldwide, BLUE and Quasar, to create a new global network, Possible Worldwide
  • WPP expands its digital presence further in Latin America by taking majority stakes in two leading Brazilian digital agencies, and Gringo
  • WPP is named Holding Company of the Year at the 2011 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity
  • The Group co-launches China’s first professional marketing diploma course
  • WPP is ranked 41 out of 500 in Newsweek’s Green Rankings 2011
  • Through GroupM, WPP forms a new corporate trading division, The Midas Exchange, to help clients secure media credits in exchange for under-performing assets
  • The Group continues to build its digital expertise through acquisitions, joint ventures and partnerships, with investments in China, Brazil, Singapore, the UK and the US
  • WPP forms a strategic partnership with Buddy Media, the Facebook management system of choice for seven of the world's top 10 advertisers, to help the world's largest brands scale their marketing efforts on Facebook more effectively
  • RECMA, the agency research firm, ranks WPP No.1 for the number of digital staff employed, with more than 17,400 digital specialists, or over 12% of its people (including associates) worldwide
  • WPP and Millward Brown launch the inaugural BrandZ Top 50 Most Valuable Chinese Brands, the first time China's brands have been ranked through financial data and consumer perception
  • Kantar streamlines its structure and combines TNS Custom with Research International to create the world's largest custom research group
  • WPP forms strategic partnership with leading analytics company Omniture to help clients optimise their marketing spend
  • Group companies accumulate a record number of awards at the Cannes International Advertising Festival
  • WPP strengthens its presence in Africa through investments in Kenya-based Scangroup and The Jupiter Drawing Room & Partners and Smollan Group in South Africa
  • OgilvyInteractive, VML and Wunderman named as Leaders in the Forrester Wave TM report on US interactive agencies
  • Launch of PARTNERZ, a powerful sponsorship research tool covering the fields of sport, the arts, music, film, festivals and entertainment
  • The Group’s digital capabilities strengthened with further acquisitions in China, Hong Kong, Europe and the US
  • WPP creates a new UK-listed, Jersey incorporated parent company to be called WPP plc and changes its domicile to Dublin, Ireland
  • TNS is acquired by WPP and joins the Kantar Group, which becomes the world's second largest market research group
  • Google and WPP launch a Marketing Research Awards Program to support research into online media and its influence on consumer behaviour
  • WPP Digital created to harness digital media opportunities; forms further digital partnerships with 24/7 Real Media, JumpTap , iconmobile and mMetrics
  • WPP adopts carbon neutral strategy by introducing a Groupwide carbon offset program and setting CO2 reduction targets
  • Continued acquisitions and investments in strategically-important regions and disciplines
  • Dell appoints WPP as worldwide marketing partner
  • China presence further strengthened by acquisitions in advertising, media, specialist marketing and market research
  • WPP invests in digital partnerships with Visible Technologies, WildTangent and Spot Runner
  • Launch of BrandAmp, a musical and brand partnership between WPP's GroupM and Universal Music
  • WPP acquires  Grey Global Group
  • Poster Publicity and Portland merge to create global outdoor media company  Kinetic
  • WPP strengthens position in Russia via new venture with Video International
  • WPP acquires Bridge Worldwide, a leading US-based interactive and relationship marketing specialist
  • WPP teams win global HSBC and Samsung accounts, representing more than $1 billion in new business
  • Strengthens creative and media presence in China and Taiwan
  • AGB and Nielsen Media Research create international TV ratings company AGB Nielsen Media Research
  • Acquires Cordiant Communications Group, bringing Bates , Fitch , 141 Worldwide and HealthWorld into the Group. Bates re-launches as a standalone Asian agency brand
  • WPP forms  GroupM to oversee Group's media investment management interests
  • Red Cell strengthens in UK via stake in HHCL
2002 2001
  • Launches Red Cell, fourth agency network; acquires US creative advertising agency Berlin Cameron & Partners
  • Acquires Tempus Group plc. Tempus' media agency CIA joins forces with The Media Edge to form Mediaedge:cia
  • Acquires majority interest in Korean advertising agency AD Venture Worldwide; 25+ further acquisitions including Penn, Schoen & Berland , MJM, VML , Finsbury, Glendinning and Ziment
2000 1999
  • Mindshare launches in the US
  • Kimberly-Clark consolidates its global advertising account with JWT
  • Acquires corporate identity specialists Lambie-Nairn,and sports marketing company PRISM Group
  • Forms strategic alliance with Asatsu-DK Inc , Japan's third largest advertising agency
  • Continued acquisitions (30+) across all disciplines to strengthen existing networks, including US-based global retail consultancy Management Ventures Inc
  • Joins the London Stock Exchange's FTSE 100 Index
  • Introduces worldwide stock option program for all WPP people
  • Launches new generation media planning, buying and research company Mindshare , in Europe and Asia
  • Invests in Batey Holdings, Singapore-based advertising group, Chime Communications Limited and Latin American media research business Kantar Media IBOPE
  • Establishes Kantar as internal parent company for the Group's research interests
  • WPP makes a number of strategic acquisitions and investments in new media (digital) companies
  • IBM consolidates its global advertising at Ogilvy & Mather, moving from 40 agencies to a single global agency
  • Launches CommonHealth , an international healthcare communications network drawing on specialist skills of professionals across the Group
  • WPP named the world's top agency group by Advertising Age
  • Group financial re-structuring
1989 1988
  • Listed on NASDAQ exchange in New York
  • Continued acquisition of US and UK-based marketing services companies
1987 1986-87
  • Sorrell becomes chief executive of the renamed WPP Group
  • Builds below-the-line capabilities with acquisition of marketing services companies in the UK and US

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WPP Annual Report & Accounts 2015

WPP Annual Report 2015