WPP’s new joint chief operating officer, Mark Read, has spoken publicly for the first time since the group’s CEO, Martin Sorrell departed from the business in April.
In an interview with Campaign, Read dished the dirt on the ad giant’s challenges, strategy and workplace culture in the new post-Sorrell era.
First and foremost, Read admitted to Campaign WPP has some hurdles to overcome.
“We recognise the group has some challenges or our revenue growth would be stronger,” he said.
For Read, the biggest shift now for the group is “to focus on our clients, not on ourselves”.
When Campaign asked what WPP’s new “narrative” is, given its state of ‘limbo’, Read was quick to respond, “I don’t feel like we are in a limbo period”.
However, Read was also open in admitting there would be no quick fix moving forward.
“There’s no one single bullet in terms of getting the business back growing.”
Adding, “The new narrative, such as it is, is becoming closer to our clients, becoming closer together, putting data and technology more at the heart of what we want to do.”
When asked the toll Sorrell’s exit had taken on the group, Read said, “Martin was important and there will be times when I need to play that role. But he wasn’t the only reason we won new business.”
“Different holding company CEOs play different roles. I think you need to lead from the front in this industry. Ultimately it’s the work that should speak for itself – not just your relationships,” he added.
Looking ahead, Read said, “We’re positive. I’m smiling. I wouldn’t say enjoying it is necessarily the right word.”
Sorrell resigned from WPP in mid-April after the company announced an investigation into “alleged personal misconduct” against him.
“The previously announced investigation into an allegation of misconduct against Sir Martin has concluded,” a statement by WPP said.
“The allegation did not involve amounts that are material.”
Sorrell has “unreservedly” rejected the allegation that he misused company assets.
WPP chairman Roberto Quarta has now become executive chairman until the appointment of a new CEO.