WPP has not had the most spectacular year possible. It’s not alone. This has been a tough year in adland. But WPP also had a nasty top tier shift accompanied by a lot of industry chatter, its like-for-like net sales are set to fall for the second year in a row and its shares have fallen since March 2017. Since Sorrell’s departure, the company has been streamlining its agencies, becoming a more compact group. Now it has formally enacted a global repositioning, becoming a creative transformation company with a simplified offer for clients that will focus on four groups:
- Communications – advertising, content, media, public relations, public affairs and healthcare
- Experience – new brand, product and service experiences
- Commerce – services for clients in omnichannel commerce and marketplaces
- Technology – building and operating marketing technology with clients
In the company statement, Mark Read, chief executive officer of WPP, said, “What we hear from clients is very consistent: they want our creativity, and they want us to help them transform their business in a world reshaped by technology. This is at the heart of what we do.
“We are fundamentally repositioning WPP as a creative transformation company with a simpler offer that allows us to meet the present and future needs of clients. This more contemporary proposition has already helped us to win new business, including Volkswagen’s creative account in North America.
“The restructuring of our business will enable increased investment in creativity, technology and talent, enhancing our capabilities in the categories with the greatest potential for future growth. As well as improving our offer and creating opportunities for clients, this investment will drive sustainable, profitable growth for our shareholders.
“We describe our approach as ‘radical evolution’: radical because we are taking decisive action and implementing major change; evolution because we will achieve this while respecting the things that make WPP the great company it is today.”
The WPP statement also includes a commitment to creativity:
“WPP’s most important competitive advantage is its creativity. It is what makes WPP special and what differentiates it from other professional services firms. WPP has significant creative strengths, having won the “Holding Company of the Year” award at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity for seven consecutive years between 2011 and 2017 – but the business must invest more in this area. As part of this strategic review, WPP is making a renewed commitment to creativity, investing an incremental £15m [AU$26m] a year for the next three years in creative leadership, with a particular focus on the United States.”
WPP AUNZ has therefore created a new brand, and a refreshed brand identity, in line with the repositioning. The identity and its AUNZ iteration were created by WPP agencies, Superunion and Landor.
WPP AUNZ executive director, John Steedman, noted that the refreshed WPP AUNZ brand was in line with the broader direction of WPP, with its clean lines and simple design indicating a more streamlined approach.
“The new brand reflects a new era for WPP, and represents us as a dynamic, forward-thinking company with creativity and technology at its heart.
“We are simplifying and improving our offer to capture the opportunities of a changing marketplace. Our new look reflects this approach and we’re excited about the renewed energy it brings.”