Reports from our company leaders

Specialist Communications

Report by Mary-Ellen Howe, chief operating officer, Specialist Communications, North America and Laurence Mellman, chief operating officer, International Specialist Communications

Photo of Mary-Ellen Howe, Chief operating officer, Specialist Communications, North America, International Specialist Communications

Mary-Ellen Howe, chief operating officer

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 the depth of knowledge and strategic focus of these specialists; the Group benefits through the flexibility these companies offer as partners for sister WPP companies, when serving clients’ integrated marketing needs. Our role in managing this portfolio is to help these companies grow on their own terms and to support co-operation opportunities across the Group.

Momentum going into 2015 remains positive with good growth forecast across all disciplines and geographies.

Scangroup is the largest marketing and communications group operating a multiagency model across multiple disciplines in sub-Saharan Africa, with majority-owned offices in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and minority-owned operations in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Gabon, Ivory Coast, Namibia, Senegal and Zimbabwe. The group also has affiliate partners in Botswana, DRC, Congo (Brazzaville), Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Niger, Reunion and Sierra Leone. The group operates a blend of local and WPP brands in the region and is listed on the Nairobi Securities Exchange.

Following WPP’s increased investment in late 2013, 2014 was a year of even greater collaboration with each of the WPP agencies aligned with Scangroup. New offices were opened in Uganda (J. Walter Thompson), and Zambia (Ogilvy & Mather), and we had the first full-year benefit of H+K Strategies in South Africa.

Scangroup’s agencies continued to be the most awarded across the region. Ogilvy & Mather won Financial Mail Ad Focus Agency Network of the Year for an unprecedented sixth time, besides sweeping the Africa Cristal Awards with 18 awards including the festival’s Grand Cristal and Network Agency of the Year. Scanad Uganda was the flagship agency in the South African Loeries, winning five awards, and Scanad Ghana dominated the Ghana Gong awards with 22 medals including one Platinum Award.

Our role in managing this portfolio is to help these companies grow on their own terms and to support co-operation opportunities across the Group

Alongside collaboration with sister agencies, Scangroup will continue to assess acquisition opportunities to broaden both its service and geographical offerings.

At Berlin Cameron, Capitol One continued its enthusiasm for the agency with new assignments from the home equity and retail bank divisions. The agency launched highly successful campaigns for new clients, including IAC’s Vimeo and the Gilt Groupe as well as for retail client QuickChek and pet food brand Stella & Chewy’s. With their WPP partners at BAV it was hired by Toyota Motor Company to develop a new global positioning for luxury brand Lexus. Berlin Cameron also continues to play a core role in some of WPP’s Client Team activity. The agency looks forward to future growth and a return to the high-profile creative that defined it.

Seattle-based Cole & Weber started 2014 with its creative work for the International Olympic Committee being featured throughout the venues in Sochi. In addition, the agency deepened its ties with long-term client Washington State Lottery and continued its global digital work for Hawaiian Airlines.

Spanish advertising agency Senora Rushmore had another strong year in 2014. Once again it was voted the most creative agency in Spain in the annual Grupo Consultores agency rankings. Client developments in 2014 included the significant expansion of the agency’s relationships with key clients Vodafone and Coca-Cola, including being awarded responsibility for managing the latter’s campaign around the UEFA EURO 2016 Football Championship.

The Farm Group had another busy and successful year providing facilities and creative staff for many of the UK’s and international broadcasters’ most important event television. Notable off-site projects in 2014 included providing the creative and technical staff from the Salford-based team for the BBC’s coverage of the Rio FIFA World Cup, the Sochi Winter Olympics and The Commonwealth Games. Meanwhile the Soho facilities worked on high-profile shows such as The Honourable Woman, Downton Abbey and Grayson Perry: Who Are You as well as ITV’s Saturday night blockbusters such as The X Factor, Britain’s Got Talent, Stars in Their Eyes and Splash. Activity in Los Angeles included the post production on People’s Couch (US’s Gogglebox) and Gypsy Sisters.

US-based corporate events company MJM created inspiration and impact for top-tier clients including Deloitte, Billie Jean King, NAPA and AstraZeneca. MJM took talent development and corporate assembly to the next level with creative strategy and production for its clients’ most significant internal-facing events.

Metro Broadcast continued to inspire clients by coupling creativity with technical event production services for long-term clients Deloitte, Citi, RBS, Shell, Roche and Allergan across the UK and internationally.

Risk management experts Mando continued to expand its business in 2014 with growth in new offices in Australia and South Africa coming through clients such as Coca-Cola and McDonald’s. There was also strong growth in Germany, with new clients including Mars, L’Oréal and Mondelēz. The UK office saw increased involvement in the administration of all McDonald’s promotions.

Both Pace Communications and Green Advertising are continuing to build their real estate practices and expanding into other areas, particularly the educational, gaming, hospitality and healthcare sectors, with noteworthy accounts such as Mardi Gras and Broward College.

The Food Group has continued to expand its food and beverage marketing business with significant growth from their Shopper Marketing, Brand Engagement and Culinary Consultation practices.

At UK CRM agency, EWA, new services designed around polling and surveys saw the business getting involved in local and European elections, the Scottish Independence referendum and the build-up to this year’s UK General Election. Core services focused on improving relationships between clients and their customers, generating new business from JET, Affinity Sutton and Taylor Wimpey.

2014 was a strong year for BDG architecture + design as its market regained momentum. It also saw its relocation to Sea Containers, Blackfriars to join the ‘Creative Mile’ on the South Bank of London. Additionally, BDG saw growth in its European reach with projects starting in Germany, Spain and France.

Production agency Pointblank enjoyed a year of significant progress in 2014 as it continued to produce an array of work in the world of TV commercials, branded content and print for both WPP and non-WPP clients. Highlights included producing a global TV spot for Procter & Gamble, teaming up with Grey New York to help pitch and win the Papa John’s pizza business, Ogilvy & Mather’s first campaign for Pizza Hut in the UK and highly-commended content pieces for Avis and H. Moser. It also increased the depth and quality of its roster of award-winning directors and established a new stills division.

Photo Laurence Mellman, chief operating officer, International Specialist Communications

Laurence Mellman, chief operating officer