The so called "czar" of the Global WPP Group was Martin Sorrell. Before acquiring the UK shopping cart manufacturer Wire & Plastic Products (WPP), he had been the 'third brother' at Saatchi & Saatchi from 1975 to 1986. He used WPP as a vehicle for acquiring 'below-the-line' advertising-related businesses.
It was Martin Sorrel, who made a successful five hundred and sixty six million dollar hostile bid for J. Walter Thompson in 1987. Two years later the Global WPP Group was expanded through the eight hundred and twenty five million dollar purchase of the equally prestigious Ogilvy & Mather.
In 2003, the Global WPP Group successfully bid for the ailing Coridant group (acquired for mere seventeen million dollars million (plus an assumption of debts)), and a year later WPP acquired Grey Global with cash and shares, worth over one point three billion dollars. As for 2000, Grey had sales of one point two hundred and forty seven million dollars and earnings of nineteen million.
The world's largest marketing services company, the Global WPP Group, also launched the Enterprise Identity Group, a global identity consultancy with revenues of over thirty million dollars in 1995. These teams have already worked together on the projects, such as the Sprint, Deutsche Telekom and France Telecom alliance, the National Commercial Bank of Saudi Arabia, Detroit Edison, Cargill and Saab.
The Enterprise Identity Group brought together a major WPP investor to identify brands that were formerly known as Sampson Tyrell in Europe, Anspach Grossman Portugal and SBG Partners in the US, Artistree in Hong Kong and Ogilvy and Mather Identity in Taiwan. Going forward, the companies became known as: SampsonTyrrell Enterprise, Anspach Grossman Enterprise, SBG Enterprise, Artistree Enterprise and Ogilvy and Mather Enterprise.
Employing more than two hundred and fifty people in key strategic locations: London, New York, San Francisco, Hong Kong and Taipei, it is one of the largest specialist identity consulting groups of its kind. The Group meets the needs of corporations, managing global identities and brands.
"We firmly believe that the identity, together with the media advertising and market research, is one of three major services that global businesses actively seek," said Martin Sorrell, the Chief Executive of the WPP Group plc.
Dave Allen, the Chief Executive, SampsonTyrrell Enterprise in Europe, and Jim Johnson, the Chief Executive of Anspach Grossman Enterprise in the US, were leading the venture. "The creation of the Enterprise Identity Group is in response to client needs, identified in the research we commissioned. This showed a clear need among the Fortune 500 companies for the global identity consulting," says Allen.
Jim Johnson adds that "this new venture enables us to construct client facing teams that combine the best of the US, European and Asia Pacific thinking in one team. The vital issue for our clients is having one point of the contact for global programs."
The fact that the Enterprise Identity Group is built from strong successful local companies is important in defining the strength of the venture. The key to meeting the needs of companies, managing global identities and brands, is in the depth of this local knowledge.