Reports from our company leaders

Specialist Communications

Report by Mary-Ellen Howe (right)
Chief operating officer, Specialist Communications, North America
Laurence Mellman (left)
Chief operating officer, International Specialist Communications


PP’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 2016 remains positive with continuing growth expected.

WPP Scangroup is listed on the Nairobi Securities Exchange, operating a multi-agency model as WPP’s partner 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. 

2015 saw the first full-year benefit of new offices in Uganda (J. Walter Thompson) and Zambia (Ogilvy & Mather), and H+K Strategies in Nigeria was launched. The media agencies also became more closely aligned with the GroupM network.

The company’s agencies continued to win numerous awards across the region.

Alongside collaboration with sister agencies, acquisition opportunities continue to be assessed to broaden service and geographical offerings.

In 2015, Berlin Cameron made a strategic move to focus the growth engine of the business on strategic planning and consulting. The agency partnered with BAV Consulting and, after several successful collaborations for US clients Comcast, Vimeo and the GILT Group, landed its first major global project: the repositioning assignment for Toyota Motor Corporation’s Lexus brand. While consulting will continue to be a lead focus in 2016, the agency experienced strong growth from its long-time client Capital One, with major assignments for Capital One Home Loans and the repositioning of the Capital One Bank.

Seattle-based Cole & Weber increased revenue by 80% after winning new business from Harmonix (makers of the Rock Band video game), Trident Seafoods (America’s largest seafood producer) and DeVry University among others. Clients appreciate the nimbleness of a medium-size agency that combines the creativity of a boutique with the strategic rigour of a business consultancy and the digital prowess of a stand-alone digital shop. 

Sra. Rushmore in Madrid worked to consolidate the Vodafone account in 2015 with a win of the digital business and the launch of Vodafone One and Vodafone TV. In addition, the agency was named as one of three global agencies to work on the Coca-Cola global brand – a tremendous achievement.

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

The Farm Group had another year of significant activity in 2015, providing post production solutions for producers and broadcasters in the UK and US. The London facilities remain highly utilized on prime-time projects (such as Downton Abbey) for ITV, BBC, Channel 4, and UKTV. A new, state-of-the-art facility is being built in London. Activity in 2016 will include coverage of the Rio Summer Olympic Games.US-based corporate events company MJM created inspiration and impact for top-tier clients, including Deloitte, NAPA, Discover, Unilever and Pfizer. MJM took talent development and corporate assembly to the next level with creative strategy and production for their clients’ most significant internal-facing events.

Metro Broadcast continued to invest in game-changing event technologies and creative skills, combining both to deliver complex, live events in the UK and around the world. Clients from a range of sectors including banking, professional services, pharmaceuticals, energy and government rely on Metro’s creative and technical strengths to find new and exciting ways to engage audiences through live or broadcast communications.

Mando continued to solidify its position as the world’s No.1 promotional risk management company with another record-breaking year. Investment in France, Spain, Australia, Italy and Germany has enabled key clients such as Nutella, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola and E.Leclerc to construct some  of the most innovative promotions worldwide.

Pace, under new leadership, expanded its reach to include real estate projects throughout the New York metropolitan area as well as the Boston and Ohio markets. The Green Division continues to expand beyond real estate with additional assignments in the Education sector.

The Food Group has continued to build its food and beverage marketing business with core clients such as Mondelēz, Kraft, Heinz and The McIlhenny Co., and the addition of Mars, Regal Springs Trusthouse and Ventura Foods to its client roster.

Specialist UK CRM agency, EWA, continued to build on new services around political polling, surveys and telephone contact with voters, working on local and European elections, and the UK General Election. Core services focused on improving relationships between clients and their customers through the delivery of promotions, campaign response and customer experience solutions, generating new business from JET, Linden Homes and Wiltshire Farm Foods.

BDG architecture + design continued to strengthen its position as a leader in the development and design of dynamic and agile working environments. Its work in the UK included the completion of Ogilvy & Mather and MEC’s new location at Sea Containers House (which will accommodate over 2,000 staff) as well as Cannington Court – a highly-sustainable training campus within a Grade 1-listed priory in Somerset – for EDF Energy. Significant client wins through the year included Sky, Palantir and IO Oil and Gas. 2015 also saw the studio increase its international portfolio, the most notable being the three-year co-location project for WPP Madrid.