British marketing giant WPP has overtook long-time rival Omnicom for the first time in 2008 to become the world’s biggest marketing group, as well as the most profitable.
Very much the personal creation of its founder Sir Martin Sorrell, WPP now owns four of the world’s largest advertising agencies in JWT, Ogilvy & Mather, Young & Rubicam and Grey. These are partnered by the four global media networks Mindshare, MEC, Mediacom and Maxus, under the overall banner of GroupM.
According to the Global Advertising Market Report & Forecast 2015-2020, Omnicom is the #2 marketing services group, controlling an extensive collection of different businesses led by the global advertising networks of BBDO, DDB and TBWA, three agencies with an unequalled reputation for excellent creative work. Its main media buying network is OMD. The group also controls an extensive collection of marketing services companies including PR giant Fleishman Hillard and CRM marketer Rapp. Plans to overtake WPP for the top spot through a merger with Publicis were abandoned in 2014.
Publicis Groupe, Interpublic Group of Companies and Dentsu made the third, fourth and fifth positions of the top five global marketing groups respectively.
Publicis Groupe of France forced its way into the upper ranks with a string of canny acquisitions, including Saatchi & Saatchi and Leo Burnett. More recently it took full control of widely admired Bartle Bogle Hegarty, and acquired a string of digital specialists including Digitas, Razorfish and Sapient. Its Starcom MediaVest is the #1 media planner buyer, partnered by Zenith Optimedia. A bold plan to merge with Omnicom to create a new global giant collapsed in 2014.
Interpublic remains one of the big four international marketing groups but it struggled in the early 2000s with a series of challenges in different parts of its portfolio. Its lead advertising network is McCann Worldgroup, one of the original pioneers in modern global marketing, supported by integrated network FCB, and a diverse collection of other shops including creative agencies Lowe and Deutsch, PR giant Weber Shandwick and digital specialist R/GA. Media networks include UM and Initiative.
According to Adbrands.net, no advertising agency dominates its home market as completely as Dentsu of Japan, which controls around 30% of all that country’s mass media advertising. Until recently its profile outside Asia has been very limited indeed, but Dentsu has begun to change that imbalance with a few carefully selected acquisitions. The first big breakthrough came with the purchase of New York ad agency McGarryBowen. That was topped by the bolt-on of Aegis, which owns the global media networks Carat and Vizeum.
Havas of France is the last of what was once a sizeable second tier of mid-sized global marketing groups. It controls global advertising network Havas Worldwide (which changed its name from Euro RSCG in Sept 2012) and media network Havas Media, as well as small collection of other agencies, of which the best known is Arnold Worldwide. The former flagship of Euro RSCG in Paris has also established a separate identity under the name BETC.