Report by Mark Read
Chief executive officer
Chief operating officer
PP Digital is a group of companies that drives marketing transformation and innovation for leading global brands. Combining technical expertise with a consumer-focused, insight-driven approach, WPP Digital companies deliver award-winning solutions that allow our clients to reach consumers in context across all digital touchpoints. 2016 was another successful year, with the expansion of existing client relationships, significant new client wins and multiple industry accolades.
POSSIBLE, an integrated agency, continued its focus on data, technology, creativity and emotion. Its Empathy Model, a proprietary tool for analysing the emotions of social posts, made Coca-Cola the leader in social media marketing at the 2016 Summer Olympics. POSSIBLE expanded its Commerce practice by building specific services and expertise that optimise marketing and sales performance for brands on Amazon and Alibaba’s Tmall, and continued to strengthen relationships with Microsoft, Nestlé, AT&T, Procter & Gamble and Turner, and added Aston Martin, Adidas, LEGO and Specsavers to its roster. The agency launched POSSIBLE POV, a curated collection of articles on all things digital. The agency also expanded into Germany, Brazil and Argentina and strengthened its Adobe expertise through the acquisition of Conrad Caine.
SYZYGY enhanced its CGI, virtual reality, innovation, customer experience, data and media management offerings. The company acquired USEEDS, a Berlin-based customer experience specialist, opened new offices in Munich and London and expanded in the US. Creative director Piotr Jaworowski was awarded The Internationalist Agency Innovator award and the agency won Cannes Lions and MM&M awards for its work on Soolantra. SYZYGY continued to work successfully with Global Avis globally and Mazda; new clients included Lufthansa, L'Oréal, Muller, American Express and Facebook.
Creative agency Johannes Leonardo experienced continued success with its guiding mantra ‘The Consumer is the Medium.’ JL helped make Adidas Instagram’s most-liked brand within its category and won new work with Sonnet Insurance, New York City Football Club, NBC, Alexander Wang and Bleacher Report. The agency also added Mass Mutual to its roster and continued to strengthen relationships with Google and Coca-Cola.
As the network of communication channels available to consumers grows increasingly complex, we will remain at the forefront of marketing innovation
Hogarth had a very successful year. Growth in digital was particularly strong, fuelled by the opening of a specialist offshore digital production facility in Brazil and the deployment of dynamic advertising content for use on the web. The company continued to expand its offer in TV primary and post production, working with a number of global brands to consolidate its TV production activity around the world. Major client wins included Nespresso, GSK and General Mills. In addition, it substantially grew the scope and scale of its relationships with P&G, Santander, TK Maxx and Dow Jones, amongst several others. The global nature of Hogarth’s leading client relationships has driven activity across the whole company. Revenue grew across all regions in 2016, with particularly strong performances in the US and Latin America.
F.biz maintained momentum, despite a challenging economic environment in Brazil, and was recognized as the No.1 digital agency in Brazil by Scopen. In addition to a Cannes Lion for Unilever work, COO Guilherme Jahara received the Caboré Award, the most prestigious national professional award for creative professionals in Brazil. New clients included Honda Motorcycles and Ovaltine.
Blue State Digital, the leading purpose-driven creative and technology agency, expanded its portfolio of clients to include Airbnb, Fair Trade USA, March of Dimes and Yale University and continued to work with Google, Lloyds Banking Group and Colgate-Palmolive to deepen their engagement with customers. BSD’s technology powered Bernie Sanders’ grassroots movement along with hundreds of political candidates and advocacy organizations during the 2016 US election. BSD received a number of awards including a Lovie for its Tate Modern creative work, a Shorty Award for the ‘Love Must Win’ campaign with Freedom To Marry and Webbys for work with NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, the Sierra Club and several trade associations.
Rockfish experienced another year of solid performance driven by best-in-class ecommerce strategy and execution of pure-play and omni-channel experiences. It expanded its offering and activations in innovation-based services for existing, long-term clients Southwest Airlines, Ford Motor Company and Sam’s Club, while leaning into emerging technologies with commerce-focused Internet of Things and mobile connectivity innovations for CPG and retail clients. Additional highlights include being named Innovation Agency of the Year at the iMedia Awards, key horizontality partnerships within WPP, and new business wins with Intel, Colgate-Palmolive, Patient Point and Luxottica/EyeMed.
The Data Alliance established partnerships with Spotify, Mobilewalla, Snapchat and VICE
Digital technology consultancy Cognifide added Barclays Africa Group Limited to its roster. The company expanded geographically with new offices in New York and Johannesburg. Cognifide was named as the UK’s Top Tech Agency in the EConsultancy Top 100 and recently spearheaded the WPP Common Ground initiative in support of #techmums, a project that empowers women through technology.
WPP’s largest ecommerce agency Salmon expanded into Northern Europe and India with the acquisition of ecommerce consultancy Eperium. Salmon launched new commerce initiatives for Audi UK, Ted Baker, Habitat and Punch Taverns, in addition to driving digital growth with existing clients DFS, Game, Sainsbury’s and Selfridges. The company grew to 700+ employees and has driven billions worth of digital transactions through its clients’ sites to date.
The Data Alliance, a horizontal team that helps WPP companies access and leverage data, entered into partnerships that will benefit WPP companies and their clients. The group established partnerships with Spotify, Mobilewalla, Snapchat and VICE. The group will continue to pursue opportunities that provide access to valuable insights for all members of the WPP network.
WPP Digital expanded its investment portfolio in 2016 with the addition of Mitú, the largest community of Latino content creators and social media influencers, Woven, a digital media company that produces and distributes pop culture content, and Russel Simmons’ All Def Digital, a leading producer of music and content tailored to the urban-centric youth population.
In 2017, WPP Digital will continue to explore acquisition and investment opportunities that enhance and augment our expertise. As the network of communication channels available to consumers grows increasingly complex, we will remain at the forefront of marketing innovation.