|Public limited company|
|Traded as||LSE: WPP
(Wire and Plastic Products plc)
(Sorrell acquisition and entry into advertising)
|Founder||Martin Sorrell (as an advertising company)|
|Headquarters||London, England (Head office)
Saint Helier, Jersey (Registered office)
Dublin, Republic of Ireland (Executive office)
|Philip Lader (Chairman)
Martin Sorrell (CEO)
|Services||Branding & identity
Media planning and buying
|Revenue||£11.528 billion (2014)|
|£1.507 billion (2014)|
|£1.151 billion (2014)|
Number of employees
|Subsidiaries||Grey Global Group
Ogilvy & Mather
Young & Rubicam
Hill & Knowlton
Cohn & Wolfe
The Brand Union
WPP plc is a British multinational advertising and public relations company with its main management office in London, England, and its executive office in Dublin, Ireland. It is the world's largest advertising company by revenues, and employs around 162,000 people in 3,000 offices across 110 countries. It owns a number of advertising, public relations and market research networks, including Millward Brown, Grey, Burson-Marsteller, Hill & Knowlton, JWT, Ogilvy & Mather, TNS, Young & Rubicam and Cohn & Wolfe.
Wire and Plastic Products plc was founded in 1971 as a manufacturer of wire shopping baskets. In 1985 Martin Sorrell, searching for a listed company through which to build a worldwide marketing services company, bought a controlling stake of just under 30% at a cost of $676,000. Sorrell had been the financial director for the advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi from 1977 to 1985, managing its takeovers of companies in the US and the UK. The holding company was renamed WPP Group and in 1987 Sorrell became its chief executive.
During 1986 WPP became the parent company of Picquotware, a manufacturer of teapots and jugs, based in Northampton. In November 1987 a fire destroyed the Northampton factory and production was restarted at Burntwood in Staffordshire. On 25 November 2004 WPP closed the Burntwood factory and stopped manufacturing Picquotware: all assets were sold on 14 December 2004.
In 1987 the company acquired J. Walter Thompson (including JWT, Hill & Knowlton and MRB Group) for $566m. The company listed on NASDAQ in 1988. In 1989 it acquired Ogilvy Group for $864m and in 1998 formed an alliance with Asatsu-DK Inc. of Japan.
In May 2000, WPP agreed to acquire the United States-based advertising company Young & Rubicam for $5.7 billion, in what was at the time the largest ever takeover in the advertising sector. The takeover made WPP the largest advertising company in the world measured by billings and revenue, overtaking Omnicom Group and Interpublic. In 2007, WPP Digital was created to develop the Group's digital capabilities. In October 2008, WPP acquired market research firm Taylor Nelson Sofres for £1.6 billion.
In March 2014 WPP agreed to acquire a minority stake in Swedish broadcaster FlowNetwork. 
WPP's government lobbying and public relations company holdings including Hill+Knowlton Strategies, Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide, Burson-Marsteller, and Cohn & Wolfe (the last two being part of Young & Rubicam Brands).
WPP's research insight and consulting companies, forming a separate umbrella group known as Kantar, comprise BMRB, Added Value, Kantar Video, Indian Market Research Bureau, Millward Brown, Management Ventures Inc., Research International and TNS.
Delfinware Domestic Wireware, which was established in 1969 and manufactures kitchen and bathroom wire racks, is also a subsidiary of WPP Group.
Principal subsidiaries, divisions, and investments
WPP's principal subsidiaries, divisions, and investments include:
WPP is governed by a board of directors, whose current members include Colin Day, Esther Dyson, Orit Gadiesh, Ruigan Li, Philip Lader, Stanley Morten, Kōichirō Naganuma, Lubna Olayan, John Quelch, Mark Read, Paul Richardson, Jeffrey Rosen, Timothy Shriver, Martin Sorrell, Paul Spencer and Solomon Trujillo.
With a number of shareholder revolts over executive pay having already happened at other public companies' AGMs earlier in the year, the media coverage of Martin Sorrell's intended £12.93m pay packet drew increasing public attention. The result was an overwhelming 59.52% shareholder vote to reject the resolution.
It has been reported that WPP goes to great lengths to lower its own corporate tax bill, paying only 1.6% of total revenue in taxes in 2010. 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.
Television Audience Measurement
In 2012 the Indian broadcasting NDTV filed a lawsuit against Television Audience Measurement (TAM), a joint venture of the former competitors Nielsen and Kantar Media Research which for years has provided the only TV audience measurement system in India. WPP Plc was listed among the defendants as the holding group of Kantar and IMRB. NDTV's lawsuit, filed in the New York State Supreme Court under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and seeking $1.4 billion for negligence and hundreds of millions for interference and breach of fiduciary duty, cited a public conversation between Vikram Chandra, CEO of NDTV, and Martin Sorrell, CEO of WPP, in which Chandra had described ways in which the system was prone to tampering and bribery; his request for a halt to the publication of the allegedly compromised data was unsuccessful.
WPP responded that the lawsuit had not been served on WPP or any of its operating companies, the New York court had no jurisdiction in the case and that it would file for dismissal, seeking legal costs, and that it was considering a lawsuit against NDTV for defamation, a threat which NDTV in turn called "baseless". The motion to dismiss was filed a week later, with the statement in its memorandum of law that "This case is nothing more than a desperate attempt by the plaintiff, a television station in New Delhi, India, to drum up media coverage in India to divert attention from the real reasons its programmes have had low audience ratings and its financial performance has been abysmal for five years ... New Delhi TV has crossed the globe and come to New York State Supreme Court to complain about an Indian company, TAM, and how it measures the ratings of television programmes in India." The motion to dismiss is to be decided by the court on 14 December 2012. Nielsen later filed its own petition for dismissal, writing that "NDTV attempts to transform a potential contract claim against TAM into tort and oral contract claims against the Nielsen defendants. Nothing in the law supports such a magic trick. Simply put, NDTV fails to allege a legal duty independent of a contract and fails to allege all of the elements needed to support each cause of action."
- "Preliminary Results 2014" (PDF). WPP plc. Retrieved 21 March 2015.
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- Piquotware History
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- The Bubblegate Company Ltd. "About us". delfinware.co.uk. Retrieved 21 March 2015.
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- "NDTV suit a desperate attempt". The Hindu. 30 August 2012.
- "NDTV-TAM case: Court to take decision on 14 Dec". Firstpost Business. 7 September 2012.
- "Nielsen files for dismissal of NDTV lawsuit". Indiantelevision.com. 12 November 2012.