London-based WPP ranked as the largest media holding group in the world in 2021 based on revenue. The company came ahead of its “big five” peers - Omnicom Group, Interpublic Group of Companies, Publicis, and Dentsu. First founded in 1971 as a small wire shopping basket manufacturer going by the name of Wire and Plastic Products plc, WPP commenced its foray into advertising in 1985. That year, its founder Sir Martin Sorrell bought a controlling stake with the aim of turning the company into a global marketing services enterprise. Today, WPP operates in the realms of communications, advertising, public relations, commerce, and technology. In a ranking considering global awards, the company pinched the gold medal among the most creative media holding groups in 2022.
Financial growth goes global
WPP’s global revenue has more than doubled in the past 16 years, going from 5.91 billion British pounds in 2006 to 14.4 billion in 2022. The company’s profitability experienced a substantial drop amid the surge of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 but rebounded in the subsequent years.
North America lined up as WPP’s largest market in 2022, with western continental Europe clinching second place. As of the second quarter of 2022, WPP recorded its highest regional revenue growth in Germany, trailed by the United States and the United Kingdom. In 2022, the company employed over 114 thousand people across more than 100 countries.
WPP agencies shoot for the stars
WPP's global integrated agencies brought in most of the advertising giant’s global revenue. The agencies segment included major networks such as AKQA, Wunderman Thompson, and Ogilvy. Ogilvy itself was named the most creative agency network worldwide in 2022. WPP’s media investment companies include top players such as Wavemaker – the second largest media agency in the world – and Mindshare. In 2022, both Wavemaker and Mindshare took part in some of the world's highest-spending winning advertising pitches. WPP’s public relations agencies encompass actors like Hill+Knowlton Strategies and FGS Global.
Sustainability targets meet social values
In March 2022, WPP made headlines for being the first major media holding group to leave Russia following its invasion of Ukraine. WPP has adopted a leading position in the usage of generative artificial intelligence (AI) in marketing. In May 2023, the company announced its partnership with software company NVIDIA to create a generative AI-fueled content engine for digital ads. The engine will connect several 3D tools and utilize content from companies such as Getty Images and Adobe, allowing WPP’s artists and designers to combine 3D content creation with generative AI. When it comes to sustainability, WPP has stated it aims to become a net zero business by 2030, in addition to sourcing all its energy from renewable sources by 2025. Back in 2002, WPP was the first marketing services institution to ever publish a sustainability report. However, the company and other ad agencies have been recently targeted by climate activists calling for a ban on fossil fuel advertising. In response, WPP's current chief officer, Mark Read, declared the company would continue working with energy clients but only those committed to reducing carbon emissions.
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