For companies such as ours, the regular acquisition of new business from new clients in open competition carries huge significance. More than any other form of achievement, it hits the headlines. It signals, very publicly, progress and momentum and state-of-the-art professionalism. It works as a kind of compliment to existing clients. And it is a great morale booster for staff. So it is extremely gratifying to be able to report that the Group’s 2011 new business performance continued, across disciplines and territories, to be outstanding.
At least as admirable, however, if less publicly recognised, is the ability of our companies to continue to service and satisfy existing clients – over many years and often through times of considerable difficulty. In 2011, an outstanding validation of this was the award of the first Lion at Cannes to any Holding Company for creative excellence. This ability to service and satisfy clients is sometimes referred to as client retention; but that’s a seriously misleading term. Client retention suggests little more than passive custodianship; looking after what you have got and making sure it does not slip away. In truth, of course, to satisfy properly demanding existing clients requires at least as much energy, initiative, enterprise and imagination as any hectic new business presentation – and on top of that, the ability to sustain such service over very long periods of time.
So while we delight in our new business record, and thank and congratulate those thousands of our people who contributed to it, we would like to reserve our last word of gratitude for those many more thousands who continued to prove, day in and day out, the value to their clients of the skills and talents of WPP professionals. It is testing and admirable work that they do, that sometimes goes unrecognised.
Sir Martin Sorrell
Group chief executive
Group finance director
- * This letter to share owners should be read in conjunction with and as part of the management report set out in the section headed Directors’ report.