From our CEO

This is our seventh corporate responsibility report. Since our first, the evidence of global warming has become undeniable and the world’s economy has gone into steep decline. The combination of global recession and global climate change is a dangerous one – but it’s essential that we don’t allow economic pressure to divert our attention from our key CR commitments to environment, marketing ethics, employment and social investment.

I see no conflict between a move to more sustainable consumption patterns and the business of business. Indeed, we’ll suffer negative impacts if we fail to change, and enjoy tangible benefits if we do. It will be part of our responsibility to our clients to encourage the development of new sustainable products and encourage their adoption. There are signs that the public mood is becoming increasingly receptive.

Research by WPP company TNS among over 13,000 people in 17 countries revealed that 40% claim to have already modified their behaviour because of the environment; 52% say they would accept some price premium for improved environmental performance; and, perhaps surprisingly, 71% say they would support retailers restricting their choice by removing unsustainable products from the shelves. These views are by no means confined to wealthy countries (see here).

Consumer spending on innovative products, encouraged by the marketing industry, will be an important factor in achieving recovery from the recession as well as avoiding the worst consequences of climate change.

Within WPP we are increasingly working with our clients to understand the significance of sustainability in their businesses – and we start with our own. Having first reviewed and identified our key issues in 2002 we continue to improve performance and accountability.

This report reveals some encouraging progress. Reflecting investments we are making to improve the energy efficiency of our offices and IT equipment, our carbon footprint is already down 10%. During 2009 we will roll out a network of 50 high-definition videoconference suites that can be pre-booked online by any WPP company. These will greatly help to reduce our dependency on air travel. Our network of climate champions continues to help raise awareness and change behaviour in every WPP business.

I look forward to updating you on further progress in 2009. In the meantime, we would very much welcome your thoughts and comments.

Sir Martin Sorrell

Sir Martin Sorrell
Group Chief Executive