Toby Southgate

Reports from our company leaders

Brand Union

Toby Southgate

Report by Toby Southgate
Worldwide chief executive officer


016 was challenging in a number of key markets. We saw twin drivers of change: the commoditisation of our packaging design offer and the impact of the value investors.

In contrast, we find continued value in our core purpose. We have been part of WPP for 30 years, and have done our best work breaking ice: engaging senior clients with practical, agnostic advice on how best to communicate and organise their brands. In 2016, this focus secured significant new engagements with Aetna, Tyson Foods, Le Group, National Grid, Liberty Mutual and IAG.

We evolved structurally, too. In Asia Pacific we created a unified regional model under chairman Monica Lee and CEO Graham Hitchmough. In the UK, we established a new leadership team with CEO Alex Clegg, who joined us after a successful decade leading Ogilvy Group Vietnam.

There were areas of outstanding performance. Madrid, under Pilar Domingo, is a model of sustained organic growth. New York, led by Christina Falzano and Don Forringer, delivered another strong year; through the dedication of Coleen Cahill, we grew our business with Bank of America. In Germany, CEO Tobias Phleps has built a successful start-up story in Berlin. In a ruthless economy, Epigram Brand Union in São Paulo delivered growth.

We ended the year with guarded confidence, and having delivered the strongest quarterly new business performance in several years. For 2017 we predict modest growth fuelled by both a refreshed clarity of purpose and our relationships across Group XP and WPP at large.