Obvious Declaration of the Day: WPP Is A Massive Fleet

BusinessWeek is featuring a first person account of “Hard Decisions” made by WPP’s founder and chief executive, Martin Sorrell.
Naturally, Sorrell talks about how hard it is to let people go from his organization, regardless of the increased frequency of such occurrences (and what critics say is a cold, calculated cost-savings measure favored by Sorrell).
Whatever you think of WPP, and holding companies in general, pause for a second to marvel at the complexity of it all.

We can’t be a collection of businesses. Clients expect us to connect the dots. The task is to get every one of the 140,000 people here to know what the other 139,999 are doing.
…We spend about $9 billion annually on people, but we don’t spend enough time evaluating that investment. The conventional wisdom in our business is if you need people, you poach them. The industry will not survive long term unless we change this attitude.

I can’t imagine a scenario where 140,000 people know what the other 139,000 are doing. It’s not a problem technology alone can solve.
By the way, when you divide 140,000 workers from $9,000,000,000 in pay, you get $64,285. That’s what WPP employees earn, on average. So, it’s not all bad.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.