WPP Australia revenue growth a stand out to start 2023

WPP announced strong results for the first quarter of the year, buoyed by its investments in tech, AI, and influencer marketing. The holding company reported revenue was up 11.9%, with like-for-like revenue increasing 4.9%. With pass-through costs, that growth hit 2.9%. Total revenue was 4.9% higher at £3.46 billion on a like-for-like basis.

WPP in Australia has seen better growth in the March quarter than the rest of the advertising group’s business in Asia-Pacific. The world’s biggest global advertising group reported a “positive” start to 2023, posting a 2.9% rise in net sales for the March quarter. 

Across Asia-Pacific, organic revenue was down 2.9%. but Australia recorded a posittive 2.5%. WPP’s strongest area was the UK with 7.4% growth. The US was 2.3%

The company is attributing that rise in part to continued spending among clients, in the communications, customer experience, commerce, data and technology sectors. 

The focus on AI over the last five years is paying off, with many examples of our work with clients, using the main AI platforms, in-market today. As a result, the company has advised it is on track to hit its revenue targets for 2023 – the effects of foreign exchange notwithstanding.

Despite the positive outlook, WPP did sound notes of warning about the tech sector slowdown. It noted that, in the US, otherwise solid performance in CPG, financial services, telecom, and media were offset by lower technology and retail client spend. As a result, the proportion of its client base of tech companies shrank by 0.6%. 

No doubt for the remainder of the year fast-reaction pivots that scale to a new market condition are essential to endure economic uncertainties.

Honests Eggs, the first-ever fitness trackers designed for chickens

Honest Eggs Co. and VMLY&R have launched FitChix, the first-ever fitness trackers designed for chickens. Accompanying the innovation is an integrated campaign designed to show people how free and healthy Honest Eggs Co. chickens really are.

VMLY&R collaborated with Airbag to create ergonomic, chicken- friendly fitness trackers that doesn’t impose on day-to-day life and behaviour. Multiple prototypes were engineered and calibrated to properly capture the activity levels of individual chickens – including step counts, which are printed onto the eggs that Australians buy at the supermarket.

Says Roger Boyd, general manager, Honest Eggs Co.: “Honest Eggs Co. is on a mission to change egg farming for the better. We launched FitChix to help monitor the health of our chooks and to continue to bring attention to why regenerative farming is better for the hens, the egg, the land, the farmer and the community.

In an extremely confusing category, Honest Eggs Co. is an easy choice as it is the one you can count on to be honest and transparent about the way we farm.”

As well as the fitness trackers and step count on each egg laid, FitChix will appear in OLV, OOH, Social and in-store to educate consumers on the importance of sustainable, regenerative farming practices.

Says Jake Barrow, group executive creative director of VMLY&R: “The egg category is a minefield of naming conventions, all designed to sound like the chickens are getting a pretty good deal. The reality is often otherwise. Right through from product, to campaign, to transaction point, FitChix is an innovation that delivers irrefutable proof that the chickens at Honest Eggs farms live a free and healthy life. So, make sure your next carbonara is an Honest one!”

Says Charmaine Griffith, growth director, VMLY&R: “As shoppers become increasingly conscious of their environmental impact, Honest Eggs Co. is helping to bring the promise of regenerative farming front and centre on supermarket shelves. As one of Australia’s foremost pioneers in this field, we’re proud to share their story.”


WPP and BigCommerce partner to enhance global ecommerce offerings

WPP and BigCommerce (NASDAQ: BIGC), a leading Open SaaS ecommerce platform for fast-growing and established B2C and B2B brands, today announced a new strategic partnership offering omnichannel solutions to help WPP clients drive growth and maximize sales across hundreds of advertising channels and marketplaces. 

This innovative partnership will give WPP priority access to new product tools on both BigCommerce and data feed management platform Feedonomics, in addition to providing APIs and data sets that will enable WPP agencies to develop unique insights for clients across product, trend and purchasing data.

The partnership reflects WPP’s ongoing investment in its commerce offer for clients. It includes a joint commitment from BigCommerce and WPP to help shared clients develop nimble commerce solutions and scale growth, and follows the announcement that WPP agency Wunderman Thompson has joined the MACH Alliance, of which BigCommerce is an early member.

As BigCommerce’s inaugural data partner, WPP will receive priority access to alpha and beta products as well as platform integrations including Amazon, Meta, Google and TikTok. These tools will allow teams to maximize omnichannel sales and optimize spend for both B2C and B2B clients.

WPP will help shape product development and innovation at BigCommerce with commerce specialists joining product and partner councils, in addition to receiving access to a custom training program and certification pathways. As part of the partnership, WPP will commit to upskilling 150 commerce specialists within the first year of working with BigCommerce.

The partnership announcement aligns with WPP’s accelerated growth strategy to strengthen technology and commerce offerings, and follows the news of the company’s ranking as a Leader in Forrester’s latest global Commerce Services Wave.

2023 the year of AI

What do I mean by this? I ran a little experiment in January: continue to integrate the new and improved ChatGPT into my work life to see what it’s capable of and if the nature of my work changes.

ChatGPT has been in and around our agencies at WPP during its development for some time. Many creative teams have been using it as a ‘test and learn’ tool in the ideation process in a project’s initial stages. 

Its output serves as a springboard for even more innovative and imaginative ideas crafted by human creativity. 

No doubt, as we see more improvements in AI and we share techniques on how to use them, we will see AI enhancing the creative process but seeing it replace the power of the creative human is highly unlikely. 

The advertising industry will need to continue to make strides in reducing bias in AI results, and continual efforts toward checks and balances will continue to promote ethical and empathetic creative work by human professionals.

The debate on what ChatGPT can and can’t do with the creative industry way of working will rage on, but the only way to find out is to put it to the test. And let me tell you, AI and machine learning are taking over the workplace faster than a robot on steroids.

The nature of work inside a creative transformation company is constantly changing and evolving, and the debate on what ChatGPT can and can’t do will be around for some time, but the only way to find out is to use it often for everything and see how it performs.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning technology have been growing with our agencies. They will play a more significant role in the workplace as the year role on as we integrate them into a broader range of systems and applications, and our clients demand help in their own evolution of AI-powered brands. It is difficult to predict precisely how these developments will play out and their specific impact on the nature of work this year but we are investing greatly that it will.

My experiment showed that conversational interfaces increase the demand for advanced language models like ChatGPT. I connected it to a text-to-speech engine, settling on Microsoft Azure Text-to-Speech with over 180 voices, and added delay to make the AI voice more like me. 

ChatGPT shines in its real-time responsiveness, consistent responses, and multilingual language use. Although it has a higher error rate than my human approach, its knowledge base is constantly growing and updated.

The knowledge base of ChatGPT is still limited to the information and knowledge it has been trained on, whereas my human brain, after some fifty years plus on this planet, still has a broader range of knowledge and experiences. That is very reassuring, knowing that I still have the edge over my AI counterpart.

Our tech team put my bot version to test with a CAPTCHA. An Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans apart – and I passed with flying colours. But the reality is that AI is making it increasingly difficult to differentiate between bots and humans. This will play a huge role in agency communication in the future.

Thanks to ChatGPT, I’ve saved time and increased efficiency in my work. It’s a valuable tool for data analysis and allowed me to collaborate with my team by assisting with scheduling and communication.

But there are limitations, and content creation is one of them. ChatGPT can create basic content, like product descriptions or social media posts, but has yet it has not replaced the creativity of the amazingly talented people in our agencies. That said, the possible workstreams are exponential.

My next goal is to make ChatGPT a more engaging and interactive training tool, allowing learners to ask questions and receive real-time feedback. But in the end, the human touch is still essential today, but replication is possible and coming, and I expect considerable advancement over the coming months. It’s the brief of the year.

Montu named Australia’s fastest-growing tech company

Montu is on a mission to improve the lives of millions of Australians through medical cannabis therapies. As an early investor, I have seen firsthand how the company has helped thousands of patients.

Montu has built an integrated cannabis ecosystem, which streamlines the journey for patients end-to-end, and sets new standards in cannabis care. Montu has grown by 20,728% over the three years to 2022. This month, Montu was named by Deloitte as the country’s fastest-growing technology company and by the Australian Financial Review (AFR) as the fifth fastest-growing start-up.

The Deloitte Technology Fast 50 ranks the 50 fastest-growing public and private technology companies in the country based on minimum cumulative revenues of A$8 million over three years. Montu took out first place, growing by a massive 20,728% over the three years to 2022 – the fastest growth of any tech company that has made the list since 2004.

Patients have more control over their medication ordering and cannabis care consultations with their own personalised portal.

Cannabis is the fastest growing industry in the world, resulting in a US$150bn global market over the forthcoming years.  Changing cannabis legislation in Australia and New Zealand opens a new chapter in healthcare with access to safer and healthier medication, and ultimately the road to a wellness and recreational market.

Montu connects Australians to highly qualified doctors via our Alternaleaf telehealth platform. And support them throughout their journey, with our dedicated patient care team. From online booking, to tele-consultations, product selection and dispensing of medication. Montu provide patients with a supportive and judgement-free environment.

Growing portfolio of high-quality brands.

Growing portfolio of high-quality brands.

Montu has built an integrated cannabis ecosystem, which streamlines the journey for patients end-to-end, and sets new standards in cannabis care. After decades of scientific negligence of the cannabis plant, research is proving what people already knew thousands of years ago: That cannabis can have a positive impact on peoples’ lives. Australia and New Zealand are predicted to be the next major cannabis markets, estimated to grow to AU$1.7 billion by 2023.


WPP named as an ‘Inclusive Employer’ by the Diversity Council Australia

WPP has been named as an ‘Inclusive Employer’ by the Diversity Council Australia (DCA). This status is the only award of its kind in Australia, recognising organisations that ensure inclusion as part of their business operations.

To be deemed an ‘Inclusive Employer’, an organisation must prove they are actively committed to inclusion by exceeding the National Index Benchmark on at least five out of six of the inclusivity measures. These measures are Awareness, Engagement, Inclusive Organizational Climate, Inclusive Leadership, Inclusive Team and Exclusion. WPP surpassed the benchmarks in all six areas.

Creating an inclusive workplace is fundamental to WPP’s purpose of using creativity to build better futures for our people, planet, client and communities. The Inclusive Employer status is a welcome recognition of WPP’s mission build and foster an inclusive culture of belonging, one that is equitable and respectful of diverse thought and individual expression.

Being the employer of choice for all is central to WPP’s people strategy and is supported by initiatives like WPP’s Reconciliation Action Plan, Inclusion Council, and Unite, an LGBTQ+ community united to ensure diverse thinking and creativity within the network.

Says Rose Herceg, president for Australia and New Zealand, WPP: “WPP is delighted to have been named an Inclusive Employer by the Diversity Council Australia, having exceeded the National Index Benchmark across all six inclusivity measures following a company-wide Inclusive Employer Index Survey.

This result is a testament to WPP’s commitment to being the employer of choice for all as we build better futures for our people, planet, clients and communities. We believe that ultimately diversity produces extraordinary creativity, manifested in the work we do for our clients and the impact we have on the world. It is the very reason we put the principles of diversity, equity and inclusion at the centre of everything we do at WPP.”

WPP Australia & New Zealand Creative Council

This month we launched the WPP Australia & New Zealand Creative Council with representation from Ogilvy, VMLY&R, Wunderman Thompson, AKQA, Whitegrey, and Hogarth. A good mix of wise old creative heads and exciting young talent. 

I’m one of the old heads and been lucky enough to be appointed to lead and coordinate the group. This talented bunch will meet regularly and already has a series of programs, events, and activities planned for 2023. It’s all about our WPP agency creative teams participating in and gaining more insight into creating powerful creative ideas and work.  

Creative Excellence is our collective goal, an ambition, a drive, and a spirit. It’s a destination and a journey. And almost as importantly, it’s a discipline made of many ever- evolving programs and processes.

All the most creative brands or agencies we admire around the world go way beyond the “Get brief, answer brief, sell idea, produce, repeat.” model. They all spend time conceptualising what their creative voice is, train their people, elevate creative standards and are relentless hunters for opportunities. What we all see now from the outside –the creative fame- was built over years of processes by great people with a vision and a set of principles.

In the Most Creative Company in the World, the pursuit of Creative Excellence should be nothing short of exhilarating. We all joined this industry for the work, and that’s what it’s all about: setting up the framework for our teams to make the best work of their lives in your markets, globally or on your agency brand.

We formed the council to talk about the work. To celebrate it. To study it, let’s try, fail and try again. Let’s explore new platforms and new crafts, and open to new perspectives. I will keep you posted of our developments.

Tennis Australia’s Action Audio

Almost 285 million people worldwide aren’t able to enjoy live sport to the fullest due to visual impairment.

For people living with blindness or low vision, the experience of broadcast sport is severely limited. On television, sports coverage relies heavily on visuals, while radio commentary can be too slow to give fans a true sense of the action.

Developed by AKQA in partnership with Tennis Australia and Monash University, Action Audio draws on ball monitoring using computer vision to emphasise key moments of play. It does so with a 3D sound design system that has been developed in collaboration with the blind and low vision community.


Action Audio launched as a pilot during the finals of the 2021 Australian Open tennis tournament. After the success of the pilot, Action Audio was made available across every match at Melbourne’s Rod Laver Arena for the 2022 tournament.

Via Australian Open radio and Google Assistant, audiences could listen to Action Audio together with the live radio commentary of each game.

Using voice commands, visually impaired tennis fans could ask Google to stream the Action Audio live feed and access information about how Action Audio works, to learn more about the experience.


WPP named a Leader in new analysis of Global Marketing Service Providers

WPP has reported this week strong first half of 2022 with broad-based growth, sustained demand from clients and the growth guidance upgraded again. This reflects the improved competitive position of our creative businesses, with their growing capabilities in commerce, experience and technology posting $AUD11.790 billion (£6.755 billion) in revenue, up 10.2%, and like-for-like revenue up 8.7% from 2021.

Alongside this results WPP has also been named a Leader among Global Marketing Service providers in The Forrester Wave™: Global Marketing Services, Q3 2022 report. The research evaluated a field of 10 of the most significant service providers, which were invited to participate in the evaluation.

The report identifies that “The integration of agency, technology, and consulting services brings together a converging landscape of holding companies, digital networks, and management consultancies. The result elevates the industry beyond advertising delivered by individual agency brands to marketing solutions delivered by teams of specialists. However, turning disparate, global capabilities into integrated solutions is much easier pitched than delivered. The best integrated marketing providers orchestrate their vast expertise in digital experience (DX), data, creative, and media with fluidity, not friction.”



The report assessed providers against 17 criteria spanning three categories: Current Offering, Strategy, and Market Presence. Among these categories, WPP received the highest scores possible in seven criteria, including creative and content services, customer data strategy and activation services, digital experience services, workforce strategy and performance.

The Forrester report notes, “WPP pioneers end-to-end marketing solutions with global creativity and scale… They include scaled, data-driven creative capabilities; integrated digital experience development; media performance prowess; and strong identity management and robust measurement and analytics. Client references support the company’s ability to orchestrate marketing campaigns and technology across regions.”


Cannes Lions and ANA’s CMO Tech & Data Growth Council

I was delighted and honored to be invited to join a new ANA Growth Council called Data & Technology working alongside members Raja Rajamannar (MasterCard), Julia Goldin (LEGO Group), Marcel Marcondes (AB InBev), Mathilde Delhoume (LVMH), Elizabeth Rutledge (American Express), Karen Walker (Intel), Alicia Enciso (Nestlé), Norman de Greve (CVS Health).

The Global Growth Councils for Progress have been established by Cannes Lions and the ANA to help our industry achieve its full potential and make progress as a global force for growth and a force for good.

As a community of CMOs from the world’s top brands, the Global CMO Growth Council has made significant progress in tackling the core issues that are paramount to achieving success for your business – and indeed making the world more sustainable and equitable.

This year, it extended its remit and reach, and welcomed professionals from both agencies and brands to join its work as it focuses on the five most pressing issues – as identified by LIONS and ANA research.

Measuring the impact marketing has on business, people, and the planet is essential to creating long-term value. Yet, CMOs have struggled to demonstrate clear progress across an increasingly complex array of standards, frameworks, and initiatives. The recent Lions State of Creativity Study mirrors the key issues we face as an industry.

Mastering data and technology underpins our ability to deepen the connections between our brands and the people we serve – especially as the frontier of Web 3.0 unfolds. But we must first master the ability to measure our investments in the physical world before we can build brave contemporary brands in the blockchain-driven, token-based economy of a virtual multiverse.  

Together, Lions and the ANA will provide the year-round platform for the industry to convene and track progress, with the councils returning to Cannes Lions in 2023 for an update on the industry’s collective progress.

Excited to get involved.