Ethical issues in client work

Where we operate, who we work for and the type of work we undertake can give rise to ethical issues. Examples include: work undertaken for government clients; operating in countries with a poor human rights record; and marketing for sensitive or controversial products.

In cases where work may be a potential risk to WPP’s reputation, employees are required to elevate the decision to the most senior person in the relevant office and then to the most senior executive of the WPP company in the country concerned, who will decide if further referral to a WPP director is required.


Following allegations that an agency in which one of our subsidiaries, Y&R, held a minority interest, and over which we had no legal control, may have advised Zanu-PF on its electoral campaign, we launched an urgent investigation in the course of which a senior member of the management of the agency notified us that she had been advising President Mugabe in a personal capacity.

WPP’s Board and management have established clear guidelines for our companies on clients for which we are prepared to work and the Mugabe regime in Zimbabwe was not an acceptable client in accordance with these standards. We were not prepared to have any association with Robert Mugabe or Zanu-PF and we therefore took the immediate decision to divest Y&R’s minority interests in Zimbabwe. This was actioned as quickly as possible.