Reports from our company leaders

Brand Union

Report by Toby Southgate
Worldwide chief executive officer


015 was a year of change as we took further steps to deliver our belief: ‘the experience of the brand is the brand’. This belief captures the shift in the wider world of marketing, a shift that requires new capabilities and approaches. In July 2015, as one of the architects of this belief, I succeeded Simon Bolton as worldwide CEO to lead this charge.

We believe that the broadcast model of brand building is inefficient. Control now sits with users, consumers, audiences and stakeholders of all kinds, empowered with unlimited information and the gift of immediate gratification. These new dynamics are core to our advisory skillset. We are working further upstream than ever, helping businesses navigate their futures, building more relevant, sustainable strategies for growth and engagement.

This approach is now embedded around our network. John Shaw, our chief product officer, continues to develop a team that embodies this commitment. This year, Iain Ellwood joined us as worldwide strategic growth director. Iain brings deep, global experience rooted in quantitative rigour.

Our new approach delivered growth overall and was particularly strong in New York, Singapore, Madrid, Paris and Hong Kong. We re-set our German and African businesses, promoting Mat Weiss to MD in Africa, a market in which we work closely with Ogilvy. In APAC, where our Ogilvy-shared venture is a source of pride and potential, the business is maturing under the leadership of Monica Lee (Asia North) and Graham Hitchmough (Asia South).

We won new client relationships, including KPMG, Tencent, Dell, Liberty Mutual, Simply Health and Telekom Malaysia. Our long-standing Key Client program remains vital, especially in the context of broader horizontal partnerships across WPP, including Vodafone, GSK, Bank of America, IHG and CBRE. We triumphed at Asia’s Transform Awards, with eight wins, including the Grand Prix for Pizza Hut.

We carry momentum and energy into 2016 and are excited by the opportunities that Group XP brings.