Section image

Specialist Communications

Report by Andrew Scott (below left) Chief operating officer
International Specialist Communications
Mary Ellen Howe (below right) Chief operating officer
Specialist Communications, North America

Andrew Scott Andrew Scott

WPP’s Specialist Communications division comprises individual business units with separate and distinct marketing expertise by industry, audience segment or medium. Our clients benefit from their depth of knowledge and strategic focus; the Group benefits through the flexibility these companies offer as partners for affiliated WPP companies when serving clients’ integrated marketing needs. Additionally, we are able to capitalize on evolving trends in terms of new areas of expertise. Our role in managing this portfolio is to help these companies grow on their own terms and to support cooperation opportunities across the Group.


Direct, promotion, digital and interactive marketing

MJM, a US-based leading corporate events company serving long-term clients such as Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Deloitte, continued to focus on creating innovative events that transform the performance of primarily internal audiences. To better align with the strategic goals of clients, MJM developed processes that optimize investment in corporate meetings and sales training. The process unifies creative and production strategy and empowers organizations. New clients acquired include Sara Lee and Johnson & Johnson.

UK outsourcing agency EWA continued to focus on adding value to its clients’ direct communications through an innovative combination of strategy, insight and delivery techniques. New client projects during the year included the set up of a dedicated guidance contact centre for Immigration New Zealand, a new insight-based direct sales channel for Merial Animal Health and the set up of an e-CRM system for adidas.

  We will continue to develop our unique creative service offering – including our digital capabilities – and deliver measurable, cost-effective results to clients 

Risk management specialists Mando worked on World Cup sales promotions for TomTom across Europe and Brazil, and with O2 in the UK. Significant growth was seen in the UK with Rachel’s Organics and Coca-Cola’s Coke Zone. In Germany, clients included Kimberly-Clark, Henkel and Nescafé Dolce Gusto. In Spain, work was won from Reckitt Benckiser, Danone, Grupo SOS and Lindt. Activity with McDonald’s continued to develop across Europe.

Headcount had a steady 2010 with continued field marketing activity being provided for Kraft, Warner Home Video and Whirlpool. In addition, the partnership with BT was expanded to deliver door-to-door sales. The agency achieved a Silver award at the Field Marketing and Brand Experience awards for the Department of Health Social Care Careers roadshow.

Custom media

In 2010, branded-content specialist Forward won a number of new contracts in traditional and digital sectors, and picked up several awards for its work. In digital, Forward launched a new London property portal, an iPhone app for homeless charity Streetsmart; extended its outbound e-zine campaign for Regus to Spain and China; won email and microsite work for international recruitment firm Astbury Marsden and conducted e-consultancy work for McKinsey. In the traditional arena, Forward won two new print-based projects: a wine mailing program for Tesco; and a monthly newspaper for B&Q, called B&Q Home, which is being distributed to approximately five million customers and prospects each month. Lastly, Forward picked up awards for its Tesco Baby Club work and its weekly e-zine work for Transport for London at the 2010 International Customer Publishing Awards.

The Forward Arts Foundation, established in 1992, continued to raise the profile of contemporary poetry in the UK with the 19th Forward Poetry Prize.

Demographic and sector marketing

The Food Group’s digital operation continued to show strong growth and launched a division called Feed Interactive to pursue non-food/beverage-focused digital business. Also in 2010, The Food Group continued to work with the premier foodservice brands of Kraft Foods, Tabasco®, Dawn Foods, Dannon, Kozy Shack and the Florida Department of Citrus.

The Food Group added to its roster the PERDUE® brand, which is the top premium fresh chicken in the eastern US. PERDUE® will be tapping into The Food Group’s extensive culinary experience to provide their customers with more flavorful menu offerings of poultry products. The Food Group also expanded its retail marketing presence with retail campaigns for the Norwegian Seafood Export Council and LALA Foods brands of Weight Watchers® and la Crème®.

Geppetto, the youth marketing company, helped clients like PepsiCo, ConAgra Foods, Energizer Brands and the NBA tap the potential of the youth mindset with programs and products based on its expertise of that unique market.

Pace Advertising and its Green Advertising division continued to build their Florida operation by focusing on digital growth opportunities, including interactive corporate videos, commercials, viral content and direct response programs. Green’s direct marketing offering has been adapted with the integration of mobile marketing, including SMS, mobile apps and social marketing.

2010 was a challenging year in the working environment design sector in which BDGworkfutures and BDG McColl operate. However, both brands have maintained a strong presence in their field. For BDGworkfutures new commissions included Honeywell, PwC and the relocation of Mindshare London, whilst existing relationships with key clients including Barclaycard, BNYMellon and EDF Energy remained strong and active. The company’s international reach continues to develop with projects across Europe for global companies such as Honeywell and Mentor Graphics as well as local companies and its work for STS Media in Moscow was awarded ‘Best Concept Office’ by Frame magazine.

In Scotland, BDG McColl secured commissions from Royal London Group and Standard Life, whilst an appointment from energy consultants Wood Mackenzie built on the commission for its Edinburgh head office completed earlier in the year. Other private sector clients included BP, Balfour Beatty, State Street Bank, and Quintiles. Work for public sector clients included ongoing major projects for University of Edinburgh and St Andrews University.

Contract furniture business Dovetail saw an improved year with ongoing relationships with Burberry, Unilever, BAT and Deloitte remaining the backbone of the business. Significant new clients included Rolex, Fladgate Fielder and Flagstone Re.

Media and film production services

Metro, a leading event production company, had a successful year in 2010. It renewed its outsourced contract at Shell Centre and was awarded the contract to provide Shell Global solutions an upgrade to its digital information system. For the Financial Services Authority, Metro assisted with the Event and Audio Visual support for both its event and roadshow activities, and it supported Tesco with its investor roadshow in Korea and China. Metro further entrenched its relationships with Credit Suisse, Deloitte and Roche. New client wins over the year included Amateur Rowing Association, Diamond Trading and the New York Stock Exchange.

In Edinburgh, Metro Ecosse maintained and developed relationships with Deloitte, Experian and NHS Health Scotland. It provided event support services for Royal Bank of Scotland and Prudential, and video production and post production projects were undertaken for some notable new clients including BAFTA Scotland and Scottish Power.

The Farm Group enjoyed another highly successful year in 2010. It maintained its dominant share of the ever-competitive London post production market and again supplied full post production services on the high-rating and award-winning ITV primetime shows: The X Factor, Britain’s Got Talent and Downton Abbey as well as key performers on the other main channels, including Deal or No Deal, Shameless, Skins, Live at the Apollo, One Born Every Minute and Total Wipeout. Also, The Farm and its team were proud to win another Bafta in 2010 for The X Factor. In 2011 The Farm is exploring an entrance into the Los Angeles post production market.

In 2010, MRC solidified its reputation as one of the world’s leading independent film and television studios. MRC Film entered into an output arrangement with Universal Studios, securing major studio distribution for 20 pictures over the next five years. MRC completed principal photography on 30 Minutes or Less, starring Academy Award nominee Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network) and Danny McBride (Eastbound and Down) and commenced production on Ted, the highly anticipated directorial debut of Seth McFarlane (Family Guy) starring Mark Wahlberg. MRC partnered with Academy Award-nominated director Neill Blomkamp (District 9) on his eagerly-awaited follow-up film, Elysium, starring Matt Damon and Jodie Foster, and announced a two picture directing/producing deal with him. Upcoming MRC films include House of Cards, a thriller executive-produced by David Fincher (The Social Network), and a comedy written and directed by Greg Daniels (The Office).

In television, MRC established itself as a major independent cable television studio behind Lionsgate, Sony and Fox and as a major external supplier for HBO, which is currently airing the second season of Emmy-nominated The Ricky Gervais Show, soon to be followed by the third season of The Life and Times of Tim. MRC TV is now in advanced development of multiple series with top film and TV talent including David Fincher, Larry Charles (Seinfeld) and David Hornsby (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia).

In the future

We will continue to develop our unique creative service offering – including our digital capabilities – and deliver measurable, cost-effective results to clients.