Efficient marketing companies always watch their costs closely. And when they encounter difficult times, they examine them with a rigour bordering on ruthlessness. Over the last five years or so, there cannot have been a single WPP client who failed to interrogate their advertising and promotional costs to within an inch of their lives in the hope of finding what they were hoping to find: savings that carried no financial penalty.
There have, of course, been some reductions in advertising spend, and in other forms of marketing communication. But for an area of expenditure whose return has been historically more difficult to evaluate than many others, marketing communications has shown itself to be remarkably resilient.
In part, this has been because more sophisticated methods of measurement have allowed companies to authorise marketing expenditure with a higher level of confidence; and in part because of the stark reality of competitive life.
There is a limit to how much you can cut before you begin to eat away at the very brand on whose future profit stream you depend. There is no such limit to the degree to which you can make a brand more desirable; or if there is, it is a limitation not of financial resources but of the human imagination.
In the early part of the 20th century, Sir Ernest Rutherford, the father of nuclear physics, is reported to have told the staff of his laboratory, “We haven’t any money so we’ve got to think.”
Over the last few years, a similar demand, though thankfully not quite as draconian, has been made of our companies’ people around the world; and they have responded magnificently. Better than any algorithm, the human mind can perform a kind of alchemy that turns ideas, words, pictures and stories into deeply satisfying objects that the world can take pleasure from.
And, around the world, the tens of thousands of human minds that WPP is supremely fortunate to represent have helped create real wealth for our tens of thousands of appreciative clients.
As is always the case, and never more so than in testing times, any success that WPP may enjoy can be no more than the cumulative success of our talented people. We thank them all.
Sir Martin Sorrell
Group chief executive
Group finance director
It is with great sadness that we report the passing of Hamish Maxwell, who was our chairman from October 1996 until February 2001. He was a fine gentleman, marked by a mild, cheerful manner that hid a steely determination. He loved marketing and advertising and was the ideal chairman. He was knowledgeable, insightful for example on "hostile" takeovers, motivating, wise and comfortable in his own skin, refraining from grandstanding. We will miss him greatly, but we are very proud to have known him and to have had him as our chairman.
In connection with the provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 (the ‘Reform Act’), the Company may include forward-looking statements (as defined in the ‘Reform Act’) in oral or written public statements issued by or on behalf of the Company. These forward-looking statements may include, among other things, plans, objectives, projections and anticipated future economic performance based on assumptions and the like that are subject to risks and uncertainties. As such, actual results or outcomes may differ materially from those discussed in the forward-looking statements. Important factors which may cause actual results to differ include but are not limited to: the unanticipated loss of a material client or key personnel, delays or reductions in client advertising budgets, shifts in industry rates of compensation, regulatory compliance costs or litigation, natural disasters or acts of terrorism, the Company’s exposure to changes in the values of other major currencies (because a substantial portion of its revenues are derived and costs incurred outside of the UK) and the overall level of economic activity in the Company’s major markets (which varies depending on, among other things, regional, national and international political and economic conditions and government regulations in the world’s advertising markets). In addition, you should consider the risks described under the caption principal risks and uncertainties, which could also cause actual results to differ from forward-looking information. In light of these and other uncertainties, the forward-looking statements included in this document should not be regarded as a representation by the Company that the Company’s plans and objectives will be achieved. The Company undertakes no obligation to update or revise any such forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.
Chapter 6 of 13