The world’s largest ad holding company WPP is holding its global board meeting in India this week for the first time since 2017. All WPP board members including WPP’s chief executive officer Mark Read are visiting India for the meeting. India has been one of the fastest growing markets for WPP over the past few years. “I think it was nice of the G20 Summit to do a warm-up for the WPP board meeting,” jokes WPP’s chief executive officer Mark Read.
“But, on a serious note, I think, it reflects the place that India has in the world today, doesn't it?" he tells Storyboard18. "India is the world's most populous country, the world's fifth biggest economy, heading to be the world's third biggest economy. In a time of some turmoil in global relations, it is great to see India taking a lead. It's been a big, powerful, important market certainly for us at WPP for many years. But I think the G20 weekend reflects newfound status in the country.”
WPP has over 10,000 people in India, about half working for the group’s domestic Indian clients and the other half are servicing their business internationally. The last time Storyboard18 caught up with Read he had said that he won’t be surprised if India overtakes the UK as one of their top markets. “It is our fifth biggest market, growing 20 percent compound over the past 5 to 10 years. It's been our fastest growing market and our fastest growing market again in 2023,” adds Read. Read feels that WPP could double the size of the business here in the next five years. “That would take India certainly by headcount over the size of the UK,” he adds. But he feels that it is still time for the country to overtake the US, which is their number one market
Read says WPP could double the size of the business in India in the next five years.
On growth plans for India, Read says acquisitions are certainly on the cards. “We are committed to invest in the market in every domain. But those domains that are probably more focused on technology, because I think that's what's driving a lot of the change. But, the heart of WPP is in advertising. Advertising, the creative side of the business, and the media side of the business, as well as public relations and design. Those are important disciplines. But our business has changed fundamentally in the last five years. We are helping clients build websites, implement CRM systems. I have just come from a new creative technology lab that we inaugurated today here in Mumbai. The lab helps clients build augmented reality, virtual reality programs, a big Coke studio promotion in a virtual world. The breadth of our offering is reflected in what we do here in India.”
He feels that the notion of imagination and intelligence, which is creativity and AI, are the two skills that the world is going to need in the future. “India has those in abundance. Take creativity, for example. India has long been a creative heart for WPP. Piyush Pandey is a venerable creative director that we've had and an iconic creative figure.” Speaking about the kind of creative work that India has done, Read says that it is not just for the Indian market but for the global market. “We won a Titanium Lion in Cannes Lions for the work we did for Cadbury's between Ogilvy and Wavemaker. We know the creative skills that India has, but we also know the technology depth you have from the likes of Infosys, Tata etc.”