Our history

WPP began life as a maker of wire shopping baskets. Today it is a world leader in communications, experience, commerce and technology.

In 1985 Sir Martin Sorrell took a controlling stake in a small UK manufacturer of wire baskets and teapots called Wire and Plastic Products, as the foundation on which to build an international advertising and marketing services group. The company was renamed simply “WPP”, with Sir Martin as its Chief Executive.

WPP grew rapidly over the following three decades, initially through large acquisitions and subsequently through organic growth alongside smaller-scale M&A.

Today WPP is a world leader in communications, experience, commerce and technology, and home to many of the industry’s most admired and successful agency networks.

The company has been a leader not only in scale but in the modernisation of the industry – pioneering the application of data and technology to communications, the consolidation of media buying to achieve the best outcomes for clients, and the seamless integration of different marketing services to provide clients with the most effective and efficient solutions.

WPP was also the first marketing services company to publish a sustainability report (in 2002), and remains a leader in the field as a member of the FTSE4Good Index and the Dow Jones Sustainability Index.

In 2020, we amended our purpose statement to make it explicit that our commitment to the planet is integral to our business. We have since committed to reach net zero emissions in our operations by 2025 and in our value chain by 2030.

Throughout its history WPP has valued and championed creative talent, and then applied that talent to achieve business results for clients – which is why WPP was not only the Most Creative Group at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity from 2011 to 2017, but also the Most Effective Group in the Effie Index from 2012 to 2020.

We have made significant progress in driving gender equality, with women now representing 51% of our senior managers. We are working hard to improve in all aspects of diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) at WPP. Success relies on accountability so, for the first time, we have included DE&I goals in the remuneration plans of all senior executives, beginning in 2021.

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