NEWS18 July 2019

WPP CEO Mark Read: ‘We have to be a global organisation’

Media News UK

UK – WPP chief executive Mark Read is concerned that London will lose its global relevance in the coming years as a result of the UK leaving the European Union.

Mark Read

Discussing the relationship between the UK and Europe during an interview at the Unbound London conference yesterday ( 17th July), Read said: “I wish we could stay together – that’s my personal view. It’s going to be quite a bumpy ride to the end of the year.”

Read also expressed concerns about London’s global standing post-Brexit. Discussing the future of advertising in Europe, he said: “We’re neither the US nor China but we have strengths. London certainly has a fantastic start-up industry, as does Berlin, Paris and Barcelona. The innovation hub of the economy is in these big cities. I worry that London will lose relevance over the next few years. We have strengths in financial services and I hope we maintain that.”

WPP has to be a ‘global organisation’ with eyes on the US and China, he said. “I don’t think we should be a ‘British company’ – we happen to be headquartered in Britain and we’re proud of that but we have to be a global organisation, and the two markets we need to succeed in are the US and China. The US is where the scale is and China is where the growth is.”

Read also discussed the challenges facing client organisations. “The only client sectors that are really growing are technology companies – Facebook, Google, Amazon – or luxury goods. Everybody else has challenges; challenges in finding growth, keeping up with consumers and challenges in innovation, and that is what we need to help our clients do. We need to remember our core strengths of understanding consumers and figuring out how to create things that they want.”

On the question of centralisation and agencies working together, he said: “You still need P&Ls to know what’s growing and what’s not growing, who’s doing well, who’s doing badly – but I think we need to have a common culture across WPP.

“Culture should drive collaboration, not financial rewards. If you need to pay people to co-operate, you’ve got it the wrong way round. Good people can be naturally co-operative, they have confidence in their ideas and they’re willing to share them. I think that’s the kind of culture we need to build to get our clients what they need.”