Adweek published the following memo to the troops from new WPP Co-COO Mark Read:
To everyone at WPP
Over the last four days I’ve spent as much time as possible speaking to our people and clients. There’s universal admiration for Martin’s achievements, and sadness about his departure. At the same time, there’s a huge amount of support and goodwill for the company, and no shortage of confidence about the future.
That confidence is well founded. The companies and client teams that make up WPP are exceptionally good at what they do. They are major organisations in their own right, with their own strong leaders. The clients I’ve spoken to have all been clear: they value their partner agencies and teams, they expect them to continue to deliver, and they have no doubt that they will.
Andrew and I have been given a very clear brief by the Board. First, to run the business on a day-to-day basis. I’m looking after people, clients and companies and Andrew is focused on operational and financial performance and managing the WPP portfolio. And second, to move forward decisively on the Group’s strategy. We have tremendous strengths within WPP, and we plan to build on those while bringing our own perspective and ideas.
WPP’s greatest strength is the depth and diversity of our talent (meaning you). We’re working closely with the leaders of our companies, and listening carefully to their views, as we develop our plans.
Some things we know already: we’ll get even closer to our clients to better understand and meet their needs and to help them grow in a world of disruption; we’ll get closer to technology partners like Adobe, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and others; we’ll make sure our structure and offer make it as simple as possible for clients to access our services across the Group; and we’ll put data, technology AND creativity at the heart of what we do.
There’s been speculation about breaking up the Group. We don’t believe this makes sense. In a world where clients need faster, more agile, integrated solutions, we need to get closer together, not further apart.
We’ll share more as soon as we can but, in the meantime, if you have questions let us know and we’ll do our best to answer them: email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org
WPP is a great business with outstanding people, world-class agencies and most of the world’s leading companies as its clients and partners.
Nothing that’s happened in the last week has changed that.
Chief Operating Officer, WPP
Gotta believe the overwhelming majority of memo recipients perused the above and wondered, “Who the fuck is Mark Read?”
To assure everyone that the two new COOs “have been given a very clear brief by the Board” is hardly an inspiring thought. Does the average WPP worker bee really want to know the Board is calling the shots?
Read’s most outrageous line declared, “WPP’s greatest strength is the depth and diversity of our talent (meaning you).” Now, despite the crazy contention that the White holding company represents “perhaps the most diverse example of diversity of any single organisation,” even former WPP Overlord Sir Martin Sorrell admitted White women are underrepresented in leadership roles and the representation of Blacks, Latinos and the LGBT community is “unacceptably low.” So saying WPP’s greatest strength is its diversity is the equivalent of proclaiming the KKK’s greatest strength is its open-minded tolerance.
Oh, and the leadership at Wunderman—where Read has served as Global CEO—lacks diversity too. To recycle Read’s words, “Nothing that’s happened in the last week has changed that.”