Our six specific objectives: Four continued

Practice development

Finally, in practice development we continue to develop horizontal initiatives in a focused set of high-potential areas across our vertical operating brands: in media, healthcare, new technologies, new faster-growing markets, internal communications, retail, entertainment and media, financial services, hi-tech and telecommunications and corporate responsibility. Specifically, we continue to invest in sharing insights and developing initiatives through The Channel (in media and research) and The Store (in distribution and retail).

In key geographic markets we are increasingly co-ordinating our activities through WPP Country Managers. We continue to believe that increasing co-ordination is required between our brands at the country and global levels, as the arguments for investment in regional management become weaker. As experience in Italy has demonstrated, however, the activities of Country Managers must be closely aligned and monitored. In addition, we are appointing an increasing number of WPP Global Client Leaders to co-ordinate our efforts on behalf of clients and to ensure they get maximum benefit from their relationships with WPP operating brands. We are focused currently on our top 30 global clients, which last year grew revenues at 3.6% on a like-for-like basis.

Furthermore, we continue to encourage internal strategic alliances and promote co-operation. Practice development initiatives have therefore been reinforced in such areas as healthcare, retail, internal communications and media and entertainment. This has been especially important to manage our portfolio of direct investments in new media, including 24/7 Real Media, under WPP Digital, and where our investments are working with our agencies and people to bring new technology capabilities and understanding to our clients. All these initiatives are designed to ensure that we, the parent company, really do (as well as being perceived to) inspire, motivate, coach, encourage, support and incentivise our operating companies to achieve their strategic and operational goals.