The Rise of WPP Advertising: A Look at its History and Impact on the Industry

As an expert in the advertising and marketing industry, I have witnessed the growth and evolution of WPP Advertising over the years. Founded in 1985 by Sir Martin Sorrell, WPP started as a small British manufacturer of wire baskets and teapots called Wire and Plastic Products. However, it quickly transformed into a global powerhouse in the advertising world, with Sir Martin at the helm as CEO. So what exactly does WPP stand for? The answer is simple - it stands for Wire and Plastic Products, the company that Sir Martin acquired a majority stake in. But over the years, WPP has come to stand for much more than just its original name.

It has become synonymous with innovation, creativity, and success in the advertising industry.

The Early Years

When Sir Martin Sorrell acquired WPP in 1985, he had a vision to build an international advertising and marketing services group. And he wasted no time in making that vision a reality. Under his leadership, WPP quickly expanded through a series of acquisitions, including the purchase of J. Walter Thompson, Ogilvy & Mather, and Young & Rubicam. But it wasn't just about acquiring big names in the industry.

Sir Martin also focused on building a strong internal culture within WPP. He believed that a company's success was dependent on its people, and he made sure to foster a collaborative and creative environment within WPP.

The Digital Age

In the early 2000s, the advertising industry saw a major shift towards digital media. And WPP was quick to adapt to this change. In 2005, WPP launched GroupM, its media investment management arm, which became the world's largest media investment group.

This move solidified WPP's position as a leader in the digital advertising space. However, WPP's competitor Publicis was also making moves in the digital world. In 2006, Publicis acquired Digitas, one of the main digital agencies at the time. This caused some to question WPP's lag in acquiring major digital agencies. But Sir Martin had a different approach - he believed in building strong partnerships and investing in technology rather than just acquiring companies.

The Impact of WPP Advertising

Today, WPP is the world's largest advertising and marketing services group, with over 200,000 employees in more than 3,000 offices across 112 countries.

Its portfolio includes some of the biggest names in the industry, such as Grey, VMLY&R, and Wunderman Thompson. But beyond its size and reach, WPP has had a significant impact on the advertising industry as a whole. Its focus on creativity and innovation has pushed other agencies to up their game and think outside the box. And its emphasis on data and technology has helped shape the way advertising is done in the digital age.

The Future of WPP Advertising

As we look towards the future, it's clear that WPP will continue to play a major role in shaping the advertising industry. With Sir Martin Sorrell stepping down as CEO in 2018, Mark Read took over as CEO and has since focused on streamlining operations and investing in technology to drive growth. WPP has also been at the forefront of diversity and inclusion efforts within the industry.

In 2020, it launched its "Inclusion Index" to measure diversity and inclusion within its agencies and clients' businesses.


In conclusion, WPP Advertising has come a long way since its humble beginnings as a manufacturer of wire baskets and teapots. It has grown into a global powerhouse in the advertising industry, with a strong focus on creativity, innovation, and technology. And as an expert in the industry, I am excited to see what the future holds for WPP and how it will continue to shape the world of advertising.

Patricia Watson
Patricia Watson

Friendly social media specialist. Professional beer fanatic. Passionate explorer. Social media scholar. Typical internet nerd. Travel nerd.

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