WPP ended 2008 with revenue of $13.60 billion, slipping past Omnicom Group ($13.36 billion) to become the world's largest agency company. WPP leapfrogged Omnicom with help from Taylor Nelson Sofres, a market research firm that WPP bought in October 2008.
London-based WPP employed 112,262 people at year-end 2008, up from 90,182 at year-end 2007. The big staffing gain mostly reflects the addition of TNS.
Including ventures in which WPP had a minority ownership stake, WPP at year-end 2008 claimed more than 135,000 full-time workers in more than 2,400 offices in 107 countries.
WPP in 2008 generated 44.4% of worldwide revenue from advertising and media, vs. 46.4% in 2007. The rest came from marketing services and market research.
WPP operates in four business segments:
• Advertising and media: Global networks Grey Group, JWT, Ogilvy Group and Young & Rubicam Brands; Voluntarily United Group of Creative Agencies, which includes shops such as Berlin Cameron United; media agencies, under the banner of Group M, including global firms Maxus, MediaCom, Mediaedge:cia and Mindshare.
• Market research ("information, insight and consultancy"): WPP's Kantar, which includes Research International, Millward Brown and TNS.
• Public relations and public affairs: Burson-Marsteller, Cohn & Wolfe, Hill & Knowlton, Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide and others. Cohn & Wolfe absorbed sibling shop GCI Group in July 2008.
• Branding and identity, healthcare and specialist communications: Branding and design services (identity, packaging, literature, events, training, architecture) including Addison, Brand Union, Fitch, Lambie-Nairn, Landor Associates, The Partners and others; direct, field, retail, promotion and point-of-sale services including G2, OgilvyAction, OgilvyOne, RTC Relationship Marketing, RMG Connect, VML and Wunderman; healthcare communications including CommonHealth, GHG, Ogilvy Healthworld, Sudler & Hennessey and others; specialist communications such as multicultural marketing, event marketing and business-to-business.
WPP in March 2009 commented about its objectives:
"The group remains committed to its six operating objectives: To continue to raise operating margins to the levels of the best-performing competition; to continue to increase flexibility in the cost structure; to improve total share owner return by maximizing the return on investment on the company's free cash flow; to continue to enhance the parent company and build unique integrated marketing approaches for clients; to continue to place greater emphasis on revenue growth; and, finally to improve still further the quality of our creative output."
WPP in 2008 adopted a truncated corporate name: In a tax-saving move, WPP Group formed a new holding company, WPP plc, listed in the U.K. and incorporated in the British Crown dependency of Jersey. WPP plc, or WPP, is now the official name of the parent company overseeing WPP's agencies and businesses.
WPP generated 2008 worldwide revenue of $13.60 billion, up 9.8% from $12.38 billion in 2007.
For 2008, WPP's reported worldwide revenue (in pounds) rose 20.9%. On a constant currency basis (using 2008 exchange rates in both years to factor out currency fluctuations), WPP said revenue 2008 rose 9.0%,"primarily reflecting," WPP said, "the strength of the euro and U.S. dollar against the pound sterling."
WPP said like-for-like or organic revenue, that is, revenue excluding acquisitions and on a constant currency basis, rose 2.7% in 2008.
WPP reported an operating margin of 15% in 2008, even with the record 15% in 2007 and up from 14.5% in 2006.
Operating margin in 2008 came in slightly below WPP's target margin (excluding TNS) of 15.5% and target margin (including TNS) of 15.3%.
WPP in February 2008 had left in place operating margin targets of 15.5% for 2008 and 16.0% for 2009.
WPP in March 2009 said: "Operating margins for 2009 are targeted to be flat at 14.3%, including a full year of TNS, equivalent to the 15.0% achieved in 2008. Operating margin targets have, therefore, been reset at 14.8% for 2010, equivalent to 15.5%, pre-TNS."
Commenting on its outlook, WPP in March 2009 said: "2009 will be a very difficult year, particularly in the first half, and we will take the necessary steps to deal with any revenue downturn." WPP added: "Our revised budgets show low single digit like-for-like 'organic' revenue decline."
WPP Digital in August 2008 started Deliver, a global digital production venture. WPP said Deliver was to "leverage WPP's existing production capabilities in Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America and South Africa in a 'distributed model' that uses the scale of WPP's digital production to not only provide cost-effective digital production, but also channel assignments to the best qualified resources within WPP."
WPP said at the time of Deliver's launch: "WPP has over 700 professionals working in the area of digital production in these markets. While much of their business is currently offshore work, Deliver will give them access to a broader range of clients and agencies inside WPP. The agencies involved with Deliver include Actis Systems (Russia), Agenda (China), Aqua (South Africa), Studiocom (via its Offshore Guys subsidiary in Colombia) and Zaaz (Seattle) from the Wunderman network, as well as the Ogilvy Group and WPP Digital agencies Blue (China/Singapore), Quasar (India) and Schematic (Los Angeles/Costa Rica)."
WPP's Ogilvy & Mather in 2007 set up a joint operation with client Lenovo Group to handle Lenovo's global advertising from Bangalore, India, giving Lenovo access to lower-cost labor. Lenovo, a Chinese computer maker, emerged as a global player in PCs with its April 2005 acquisition of the PC operations of IBM Corp., another Ogilvy client.
WPP in 2008 was the No. 3 holding company in new business as measured by net equivalent revenue (anticipated annualized revenue from new business), according to the tally of J.P. Morgan analyst Alexia Quadrani.
The agency company in 2008 had $64 million in net equivalent revenue from new business, behind Omnicom Group and Havas, Ms. Quadrani calculated. To arrive at net equivalent revenue, Ms. Quadrani weighted gains and losses based on whether the billings in question were creative or media.
WPP ranked No. 2 on Ms. Quadrani's 2007 report.
J.P. Morgan aggregates account shifts noted in press reports, but it doesn't claim its new-business tally to be all-inclusive, particularly in marketing services and outside the U.S. and U.K.
WPP in March 2009 said it had net new billings in 2008 of almost 2.9 billion pounds ($5.6 billion). That was down sharply from 2007, a year in which WPP previously reported net new billings of 5.03 billion pounds ($10.1 billion), a record for the company.
WPP said the $5.6 billion in 2008 net new billings consisted of net new billings from creative ($2.817 billion) and net new billings from media ($2.806 billion).
What do big advertisers pay WPP for media planning and buying? WPP offered a clue in 2007 when it was trying to minimize the loss of two large Mindshare accounts, Sears Holdings and 20th Century Fox. First, WPP said estimated billings on the two accounts were just $676 million, or little more than half of what trade reports said. Then it said annualized 2006 revenue on those two accounts was $18 million, equal to just 2.66% of WPP's estimated billings.
WPP in March 2009 said the company "services 345 of the Fortune Global 500 companies, 29 of the Dow Jones 30, 50 of the Nasdaq 100, 33 of the Fortune e-50, and 705 national or multi-national clients in three or more disciplines. 443 clients are served in four disciplines and these clients account for over 58% of group revenues. The group also works with over 313 clients in six or more countries."
A year earlier, WPP reported that it worked for more than 340 of the Fortune Global 500 Companies; more than half of the Nasdaq 100; and about 610 national or multinational clients in three or more disciplines. WPP said it served more than 370 clients in four disciplines in 2007; those clients account for 58% of WPP revenue. WPP said it worked with more than 270 clients in six or more countries in 2007.
In its June 2008 20-F filing, WPP said its 10 largest revenue clients in 2007 were, listed alphabetically: BAT, Ford Motor Co., GlaxoSmithKline, IBM Corp., Johnson & Johnson, Kraft Foods, Microsoft Corp., Nestle, Procter & Gamble and Unilever.
WPP said in the June 2008 20-F: "Together, these clients accounted for approximately 19% of the company's revenues in 2007. No client of the company represented more than 6% of the company's aggregate revenues in 2007. The group's companies have maintained long-standing relationships with many of its clients, with an average length of relationship for the top 10 clients of approximately 50 years."
WPP generated about 6% of 2007 revenue, or some $744 million, from Ford, its largest client.
WPP previously said its 10 largest clients in 2006 based on revenue, listed alphabetically, were Altria Group, American Express Co., BAT, Ford Motor Co., GlaxoSmithKline, IBM Corp., Microsoft Corp., Procter & Gamble Co., Pfizer and Unilever. Those clients accounted for about 22% of 2006 revenue, according to WPP's June 2007 20-F filing. No client represented more than 6% of 2006 revenue. (Altria spun off Kraft Foods in 2007.)
DISCIPLINES AND REGIONS
WPP said it generated 44.4% of 2008 worldwide revenue from advertising and media, vs. 46.4% in 2007.
Specifically, WPP said it generated 44.4% of 2008 worldwide revenue from advertising and media; 28.3% from branding/identity, healthcare and specialist communications; 10.2% from public relations/public affairs; and the remaining 17.1% from market research (the "information, insight & consultancy" segment, also known as WPP's Kantar Group).
For 2007, WPP generated 46.4% of 2007 revenue from advertising and media; 28.6% from branding/identity, healthcare and specialist communications; 10.4% from public relations/public affairs; and 14.6% from market research.
Commenting on disciplines, WPP said in March 2009:
"Public relations and public affairs was the fastest growing communications services sector on a like-for-like basis. New technologies and new media have, once again, demonstrated the power of editorial publicity through fast-growing new applications such as MySpace, YouTube, Facebook, Flickr and Wikipedia, along with the risks and difficulties of making money on social networking sites through advertising, as even experts like Facebook have found on two occasions. In addition, public relations and public affairs have benefited from the impact of polling techniques, which have provided a more scientific basis for the industry.
"Advertising and media investment management also grew above average in 2008, and this communications services sector was strengthened particularly by media investment management, which grew at almost 9%.
"Information, insight and consultancy 'market research' continued to show resilience in difficult economic conditions, growing above the average. This part of the industry certainly seems to have a lower 'beta', growing less rapidly in the upturn and more steadily in the downturn.
"Branding and identity, healthcare and specialist communications was the slowest growing segment of our business as the significant growth in direct, digital and interactive services was overpowered by slower growth in healthcare and specialist communications. The specialist communications segment of our business, includes a number of smaller companies, largely in the United States and Western Europe, which have particularly felt the impact of the recent slow-down and recession."
And what of WPP's humble other venture, Wire & Plastic Products, a British manufacturer of baskets and household wares that Group Chief Executive Martin Sorrell used as the publicly traded entity on which to build his agency business? WPP said in March 2009: "Revenues and profits at the group's manufacturing division were up slightly in 2008, against the recessionary trend."
That was a turnabout from 2007; for that year, WPP previously reported that "revenues and profits at the group's manufacturing division were disappointingly down in 2007."
Looking at revenue by region:
WPP generated 34.8% of 2008 revenue from North America. Europe accounted for 41.2% of 2008 revenue. Asia Pacific, Latin America and rest of world contributed 24.0%.
Commenting on regions, WPP said in March 2009:
"North America was the weakest region with like-for-like growth almost flat, although revenues in the fourth quarter were stronger than forecast. There were conflicting trends in North America as, on the one hand, smaller businesses may be more rapidly affected by the recession and, on the other hand, FMCG companies' 'fast moving consumer goods' may be maintaining their brand investment spending, even in more difficult times."
WPP also said in March 2009:
"Asia Pacific, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East continued to be the fastest growing region, with Africa and the Middle East being the fastest growing sub-region.
"Asia Pacific remained strong across the region, with mainland China up almost 9% and India up 21%, although Japan and Australia were weaker.
"Continental Europe and the United Kingdom, although suffering from the deterioration in economic conditions, both grew over 2% like-for-like, with Central and Eastern Europe buoying Continental Europe's overall growth.
"In 2008, Continental Europe remained two-paced, with Western Continental Europe softer and Central and Eastern Europe, Russia and the other CIS countries, in particular, more buoyant. This remained the case through the end of the year.
"Of the big five Western European markets, Spain and Italy were weakest, France and Germany were stable and the United Kingdom was stronger."
WPP agency minority holdings include:
• Asatsu-DK: 22.9% stake in Tokyo-based ad agency.
• BPG Group (Bates PanGulf): 40% stake in Dubai-based agency network.
• CHI & Partners: 49.9% stake in London-based ad agency.
• Chime Communications: 19.3% stake in London-based agency holding company.
• GIIR: approximately 20% stake in South Korean agency group that owns HS Ad (known until April 2008 as LG Ad). Korean conglomerate LG Group bought a 33% stake in July 2008, diluting WPP's stake (from about 29%) and making WPP the No. 2 shareholder.
• HighCo: 34.1% stake in marketing-services firm based in France.
• Kinetic: 50% interest in out-of-home media agency.
• STW Group: 20.1% stake in Sydney-based agency holding company.
• UniWorld Group: 49% stake in U.S. multicultural agency.
WPP previously was a minority investor in European agency network FullSix. Cognetas, a European private-equity firm, and the agency's management team in August 2008 bought FullSix's operations outside Italy for 40 million euros (a bit less than $60 million). The business bought by Cognetas operates as FullSix International.
WPP as of April 2009 remained a minority shareholder in FullSix's Italian operation (29.4% stake).
WPP Group Chief Executive Martin Sorrell in October 2008 ended a long-running legal standoff with Marco Benatti, who is another major shareholder in FullSix's Italian operation and the former director of WPP Italy. Sorrell and Benatti agreed to an out-of-court settlement of their multi-lawsuit feud. No details of the settlement were disclosed. A joint statement released in October 2008 said: "WPP and Marco Benatti have agreed to a full and final settlement of the disputes between them, which are the subject of the proceedings currently before the English High Court and related proceedings in Italy. The terms of the settlement are confidential."
WPP on Oct. 29, 2008, completed its acquisition of U.K.-based research firm Taylor Nelson Sofres, which became part of Kantar Group.
WPP paid 1.025 billion pounds (about $1.600 billion based on exchange rates that day) for TNS stock. In addition, WPP inherited TNS's debt on the acquisition date (577.8 million pounds; or $902 million based on exchange rates when the deal closed).
WPP said in March 2009: "The cost of the acquisition of TNS was 1.6 billion pounds," or $2.5 billion, including money paid for TNS stock plus debt inherited from TNS, "and was funded principally by debt."
Kantar revenue shown reflects actual 2008 and 2007 revenue of WPP's "information, insight and consultancy" segment, WPP's formal financial-segment name for Kantar.
WPP revenue shown for 2008 included TNS's contribution since the acquisition closed. That is, WPP's stated figures for 2008 included about two months of TNS revenue; WPP said TNS contributed 269.6 million pounds to 2008 revenue, or about $500.2 million based on average 2008 exchange rates.
WPP said WPP's 2008 worldwide revenue would have been about $15.4 billion including 12 months of TNS, vs. $13.6 billion with only two months of TNS. Based on extrapolations by the Ad Age DataCenter, that implies Kantar (including 12 months of TNS) had worldwide pro-forma revenue of about $4.2 billion.
TNS, when it was acquired, employed about 17,000 people worldwide and operated in more than 80 countries.
WPP said the net initial cost of all 2008 acquisitions was 1.049 billion pounds in cash ($1.946 billion), including 736 million pounds cash ($1.365 billion) for TNS.
WPP said its other 2008 acquisitions were "concentrated in advertising and media investment management in the United States, the United Kingdom, Denmark, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Ukraine, the Middle East, Kenya, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Guatemala, Australia, New Zealand, China, Singapore and Vietnam; in information, insight & consultancy in the United States, the United Kingdom, Spain, Brazil and India; in public relations and public affairs in the United Kingdom, China, Korea and India; in direct, internet and interactive in the United States, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Russia, China, India, Japan and Malaysia; and in branding and identity in the Netherlands."
Among the deals:
• Agenda Group: Wunderman (part of Young & Rubicam Brands) in January 2008 bought Hong Kong-based digital agency with stated revenue of $9.2 million for year ended June 2007.
• Tagora.com: JWT in January 2008 bought 75% stake in Brussels-based digital agency with 2006 revenue of $4.9 million (3.6 million euros). Employed 30 people. Clients included Radisson, Cisco, Carlsberg and the European Commission.
• Encompass Events: JWT in January 2008 bought majority stake in Encompass Events Private Ltd., an events and promotion agency based in New Delhi, India. Employed 240 people. Clients included Accenture, Ford, GlaxoSmithKline, Hewlett-Packard, HSBC, Microsoft, National Geographic Channel, Nokia and Pepsi. Stated revenue for year ended March 2007: $4.5 million (INR 206 million).
• Integrated Media Measurement: Kantar Media Research in January 2008 bought a minority stake in Integrated Media Measurement, San Mateo, Calif., a developer of an end-to-end media measurement system that links media exposure to consumer action using a mobile-phone-based digital monitoring system. Employed 60 people. KMR joined existing investors Draper Fisher Jurvetson and Advanced Technology Ventures.
• Cheskin: WPP's Added Value Group, a brand development agency, in January 2008 bought Cheskin, an innovation and design consultancy founded in 1946. Based in Redwood Shores, Calif., with offices in New York and Seattle. Employed 51 people. Clients included Microsoft, Del Monte, Visa, eBay and Wal-Mart. Stated 2006 revenue: $16.1 million.
• Yankelovich: Kantar's Henley Centre HeadlightVision in January 2008 bought Yankelovich Holdings, a U.S. consumer trends and lifestyle research business founded in 1958. At the time of the, WPP said Yankelovich and Henley Centre HeadlightVision would have a combined staff of 145 researchers and consultants based in Chapel Hill, N.C., New York, London, Delhi and Mumbai. Plans to expand into China were underway.
• LaComunidad Interactive and Event Marketing: Group M in February 2008 bought 75% stake in Amsterdam-based digital agency with 2007 revenue of $4.8 million (3.5 million euros). Focuses on viral marketing and social media.
• HeathWallace: WPP Digital in February 2008 bought 75% stake in U.K.-based web design firm with 2007 revenue of $8.6 million. Founded in 2001. Based in Reading with an office in Hong Kong and employed 60 people at the time of acquisition, up from 30 people at year-end 2006 and 15 people in mid-2006. Clients included HSBC, RBS, ABN Amro and AIB.
• Team Y&R: WPP in February 2008 bought a majority stake in Team Y&R Holdings, the holding company for a group of companies ("Team Group") in which WPP has held a minority stake since 1999 and which operates in the Middle East and North Africa. Team Group's agency operations in the region include Team Y&R, Asda'a, Intermarkets, Mediaedge:cia, Polaris and Wunderman. Has significant operations in United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Kuwait, Morocco, Jordan, Qatar and Oman. Employed more than 1,200 people. Major clients included Emaar, Etisalat, Ford, Microsoft, Sony Ericsson and Visa. Stated 2007 revenue: $100 million.
• NuConomy: WPP Digital in February 2008 bought minority stake in web analytics company with offices in San Francisco and Israel.
• Zdology: Research International in March 2008 bought a majority stake in Zdology, a leading shopper research specialist in China. Founded in 2004. Clients included Anheuser-Busch, Herborist Cosmetics, Johnson & Johnson, Kraft, Motorola, Pfizer and Wrigley China. Stated 2007 revenue: $815,000 (RMB 6.2 million).
• Evision: WPP's Bates 141 in April 2008 bought a majority stake in Evision, a digital agency in China. Founded in 2003. Based in Shanghai. Clients included Nike, Diageo, Mentos, Wyeth and Bao Steel. 2007 stated revenue: $3.8 million (RMB 28.9 million).
• Realtime Worlds: WPP in April 2008 paid $8.1 million for a minority stake in Realtime Worlds, a video-game developer. Offices in Boulder, Colo., and Dundee, Scotland. Employed more than 200 people. WPP joined existing investors Maverick Capital and New Enterprise Associates. WPP already has a stake in WildTangent, an online game company.
• HDT Holdings: WPP Digital in April 2008 bought a minority stake in HDT Holdings Technologies, a rich media advertising and technology company in China. Founded in 1999. Employed more than 270 people. WPP joined existing investors CA-JAIC China Internet Fund, Cheng Wei Ventures, Manitou Ventures and Sequoia.
• Chateux Hospitality: Grey Group's G2 in April 2008 bought a majority stake in Chateux Hospitality in India. It creates customized solutions in activation marketing and relationship management. Operates in India under Rams brand name. Founded in 1998. Employed 148 people. Based in Gurgoan. Clients included American Express, GE, GlaxoSmithKline, AIG, Nestl�, Eli Lilly, HP India and Hero Honda. Stated revenue for year ended March 2007: $2.7 million (INR123.3 million).
• AxiCom: Young & Rubicam Brands' Cohn & Wolfe in April 2008 bought majority stake in AxiCom, a European PR shop. Founded in 1994. Based in London. Employed 82 people. Stated 2007 revenue: $11.6 million (5.8 million pounds).
• Yield Software: WPP Digital in June 2008 bought a minority stake in Yield Software, which marketed a web-based technology suite for managing internet marketing. Yield Software was based in San Mateo, Calif.
• Datviet: WPP's Group M in June 2008 bought a 30% stake in three media companies within Datviet VAC Group Holdings: DatvietVAC Media Corp., a Vietnamese media investment management agency; Dong Tay Promotions Corp., a promotions and content agency; and TKL Corp., a programming and media buying and planning operation. The three ventures together employed 128 people and stated 2007 revenue of $9.4 million (VND 156 billion).
• ADPeople A/S: WPP's Enfatico (which became part of Young & Rubicam Brands in April 2009) in June 2008 bought a majority stake in ADPeople A/S, Denmark. ADPeople had operations in Denmark (SoftwarePeople) and Bangladesh (Graphic People and SoftwarePeople Bangladesh), together known as the ASG Group. WPP bought ASG Group from PeopleGroup Holdings (part of the Wibroe, Duckert & Partners Group) and management. ASG Group employed 160 people in its offices in Copenhagen, Denmark, and Dhaka, Bangladesh, at the time of acquisition. ASG Group had stated 2007 revenue of $29.5 million (DKK 161 million).
• Kassius: Wunderman in July 2008 bought a majority stake in Kassius, a French digital media agency founded in 2000. Kassius had revenue of $7.3 million (5.3 million euros) for the year ended September 2007.
• Designkitchen: Wunderman in July 2008 bought Designkitchen, a digital agency in Chicago. The shop continued to operate under the Designkitchen brand. Designkitchen was founded in 1992 and employed 70 people at the time of acquisition. WPP said Designkitchen had 2007 revenue of $7.5 million.
• Advertures: WPP's Ogilvy in July 2008 bought a majority stake in Advertures, an online marketing agency in the Czech Republic. The shop opened in 2001. It employed 28 people at the time of acquisition. Advertures had stated 2007 revenue of $2.1 million (1.5 million euros).
• Actis: Wunderman in July 2008 bought a majority stake in Actis, a digital agency in Russia. The agency opened in 1997 and employed more than 120 people at time of acquisition. WPP said Actis had 2007 revenue of $4.8 million (RUR 124 million).
• Proclivity Systems: WPP Digital in September 2008 bought a minority stake in Proclivity Systems, a New York-based developer of a platform that provides predictive insight into online shopping and purchasing behavior for advanced target marketing and merchandising.
• Synergy Hill & Knowlton: WPP's Hill & Knowlton in September 2008 increased its stake in Synergy Hill & Knowlton, give it a majority stake in the South Korea marketing-services agency. Hill & Knowlton had held a minority stake in Synergy Hill & Knowlton since 2001. The shop opened in 1999. WPP said Synergy Hill & Knowlton had 2007 revenue of $4.3 million revenues (KRW 3.952 billion).
• Data Intelligence: Group M's MediaCom in October 2008 bought a 75% stake in JLM Holdings, the parent company of Data Intelligence A/S, a sales and brand modeling company in Denmark. The venture opened in 2040 and employed 15 people at time of acquisition. Data Intelligence specialized in measuring return on investment on media and marketing investments. WPP said Data Intelligence had 2007 revenue of $2.3 million (DKK 12.3 million).
• Smollan Group: WPP in October 2008 bought a 33% stake in Smollan Group, a field marketing company in South Africa. Smollan Group employed 12,000 people at the time of WPP's investment. WPP said Smollan Group's combined revenue for the year ended February 2008 was $120 million (ZAR 847 million).
• Smart Media: WPP in January 2009 bought 20% of Smart Media Joint Stock Co., a marketing and communications company in Vietnam. The venture was started in February 2008 by founding shareholders (including Vietnam Post and Telecommunications Group, Vietnam Mobile Telecom Services Co. and Vietnam Television Station) to provide a broad range of marketing, communications and multimedia services in Vietnam with a focus on advertising, TV production, internet and mobile services, and digital content. It employed 30 people at the time of WPP's investment. WPP said revenue for the eight months ended December 2008 was about $381,000 (VND 6,358 million).
• Omniture: WPP in January 2009 made a "long-term $25 million investment" in stock of Omniture, a publicly traded provider of online business optimization services, as part of a strategic partnership to "provide clients with more-effective insights globally across both digital and traditional media channels." WPP units involved in this partnership included G2, OgilvyOne, RMG, Wunderman, Enfatico, specialist agencies Schematic, VML and Zaaz, Group M, 24/7 Real Media, Kantar and Bridge Worldwide.
• Jupiter Drawing Room: WPP in January 2009 bought a 49% stake in The Jupiter Drawing Room, a creative agency in South Africa. WPP said Jupiter Drawing Room had revenue of $33.5 million (ZAR 235.7 million) for the year ended February 2008.
• Red Dot Square: WPP in February 2009 bought Red Dot Square Solutions), a U.K.-based virtual reality research company that helps retailers and manufacturers predict consumer behavior in-store. The venture opened in 2006. It employed 60 people at time of acquisition. WPP said it had 2008 revenue of $11.3 million (6.1 million pounds). Red Dot became part of the Kantar Group network.
• Lob Conseils: WPP's Ogilvy Healthworld in February 2009 bought a majority stake in Lob Conseils, a French independent healthcare communications company. It was founded in 1989 and employed 17 people at time of the investment. WPP said the shop had revenue of $3.4 million (2.3 million euros) in the year ended September 2008.
• H-art: Group M in February 2009 bought 90% of H-art Srl, a full-service interactive agency in Italy. The shop opened in April 2005. At time of acquisition, it employed 35 people. WPP said H-art had 2007 acquisition of $4.3 million (3.15 million euros).
• Feedback Hill & Knowlton: Hill & Knowlton in March 2009 bought the remaining 70% stake in Feedback Hill & Knowlton Poland, a PR agency in Poland. The agency opened in 1994 and had been associated with Hill & Knowlton since 1998. It employed 39 people at time of the March 2009 acquisition. Feedback Hill & Knowlton had 2008 revenue of $1.9 million (PLN 5.2 million).