Social investment

Our companies provide communications services to charities for little or no fee, and negotiate free media space to run their campaigns. This pro bono work offers exciting creative opportunities to our people and supports their development.

Claire Jackson

Board planning director

JWT London

Charities and not for profits: solving communications challenges

In focus: TIE

The International Exchange brings together individuals and organisations from the communications and development sectors, to achieve social change. Through placements with NGOs in developing countries, TIE enables communications professionals to use their skills for the benefit of the community, while also experiencing life-changing personal and professional development.

WPP began its relationship with TIE in 2008. Over the last five years, eight senior WPP Fellows have gone to Brazil and worked on a variety of projects and NGOs.

In 2012, TIE sent two of our senior Fellows to work with the United Nations and Plan International in New York on a project to champion the rights of young women in the developing world; and to Ghana to work with the Golden Baobab Prize, a literacy program.

Key facts and data

  • £11.1m

    value of pro bono work undertaken

    (2011: £10.5m)

  • £14.3m

    free media space negotiated on behalf of pro bono clients (2011: £12.4m)

  • £5.1m

    direct cash donations to charities

    (2011: £4.8m)

  • £30.5m

    total social contribution

    (2011: £27.7m)

Social investment 2008-2012 chart
Charitable donations chart
Pro bono work chart

In our companies

  • Pro bono

    Campaign: Hard and Fast

    Client: The British Heart Foundation

    WPP Company: Grey London

    Every year 30,000 people in the UK collapse from a cardiac arrest. Only 10% survive. The British Heart Foundation (BHF) believed these numbers could improve if more people were confident enough to administer Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Grey London created a TV, direct mail, press and online campaign showing British ‘hard man’ Vinnie Jones demonstrating how to perform hands-only CPR to the rhythm of Bee Gees classic Stayin’ Alive. Grey also created an online training video which received over 1 million views in the first five days (the target was five years) and is now being used by health professionals across the UK.

    The campaign has won 24 awards including five British Arrows, four Cannes Lions, three Creative Circles and a Campaign BIG Award and prompted almost 100,000 people to sign the BHF petition to make emergency life-saving courses compulsory in schools. To date, 35 lives have been saved by hands-only CPR performed by people who learned it from watching the advertisement.

  • Pro bono

    Campaign: Sewn Guidelines

    Client: Fine Cell Work

    WPP Company: The Partners London

    Fine Cell Work is a charity that teaches needlework skills to UK inmates. Prisoners create original artwork, channelling their energy into something creative whilst earning a small income. The Partners have been working with Fine Cell Work on a pro bono basis for the past four years, advising them on all aspects of print and digital marketing.

    In 2012, The Partners were asked to create guidelines to ensure that the small team of dedicated volunteers could produce consistent and professional marketing material. In the spirit of the organisation, the guidelines were created as a piece of one-off embroidery that now hangs permanently in the charity’s office.

    The project, which was worth £22,000 of agency time, has been recognised at the Mobius Awards, D&AD Awards, and Cannes Lions.


    The Partners created a visual identity which helped to put Fine Cell Work on the map. It is chic, expressive and far superior in design quality to anything we might have expected from anyone else. To get this kind of pro bono design is an incredible benefit to a charity’s branding.”

    Katy Emck
    Chief executive
    Fine Cell Work

  • Pro bono

    Campaign: Smoking Kid

    Client: Thai Health Promotion Foundation

    WPP Company: Ogilvy & Mather Bangkok

    The Thai Health Promotion Foundation (THPF) is an NGO which helps people quit smoking through practical tips and advice. In 2012, Ogilvy & Mather Bangkok was tasked with creating a campaign that would encourage people to call their hotline. Rather than bombarding people with smoking-related health risks, which most smokers are already aware of, O&M decided to take a different tack. Two children were hired to approach smokers and ask for a light. The smokers all refused and lectured the children on the dangers of smoking. They were then handed a THPF brochure which asked “You worry about me, but why not about yourself?” The exchanges were filmed and broadcast on YouTube where within just three days they garnered over 5 million views. The video attracted local and international journalists who discussed the campaign on Thailand's top news outlets, as well as Al Jazeera, Reuters and Fox News to name a few. The campaign was recognised at the Spikes Asia and Cannes Lions awards. Most importantly, calls to the THPF hotline increased by 40%.

  • Pro bono

    Campaign: Rapid Rescue

    Client: Red Cross Singapore

    WPP Company: JWT Singapore

    It can take time for an ambulance to respond to an emergency call, especially if the traffic is bad or the weather conditions are poor. To tackle this problem JWT Singapore worked pro bono to create Rapid Rescue, an innovative app that allows people facing a medical emergency to connect with over 12,000 trained first aiders in Singapore. The app sends out an alert to registered volunteers within a two-kilometre range using location-based software. The shortest route to the victim is mapped out on the volunteer’s phone, providing immediate help from a qualified person who can assist until the ambulance arrives.

    Since its launch, the app has been downloaded 44,000 times from iTunes, and dozens of first aiders have responded to calls. Rapid Rescue has won many accolades, including a Grand Prix at Ad Stars, a Silver Medal at the Spikes Asia Festival of Creativity, and both Best in Show and Best Digital Campaign at the Singapore 4As Creative Circle Awards.

  • Pro bono

    Campaign: Be Proud

    Client: Surfrider Foundation

    WPP company: Y&R Paris

    The Surfrider Foundation organises an annual beach clean-up event, where thousands of volunteers spend the day picking litter across beaches in Europe. The event not only helps to clean beaches but it also raises awareness of marine litter pollution and the Surfrider organisation. Y&R Paris, which has a long-standing partnership with Surfrider, worked pro bono in 2012 to raise awareness of the day. Rather than focusing on making people feel guilty, Y&R created the Be Proud print campaign which celebrated Surfrider volunteers and showed the pride they feel in the work they do.

    The 2012 beach clean-up event attracted 42,000 volunteers in 35 countries, up almost 5% on the previous year. The campaign won a 2012 Gold Cannes Lion.

    Be Proud

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