WPP AUNZ moves into second phase of ‘transformation’, campus model extended

WPP AUNZ will be rolling out its campus model in Sydney and Melbourne, announced as an objective in the next phase of its transformation plan during yesterday’s reporting of its full year financial results.

Speaking to Mumbrella, CEO and managing director, Jens Monsees, said the campuses in Sydney and Melbourne “will not run exactly the same” as they do in the smaller markets of Adelaide, Brisbane, Perth and New Zealand, and the intention is to bring “the big broader group under one roof”.

Set to a two-year timeline, WPP’s agencies in Melbourne and Sydney will be moving into custom-built office spaces designed to form a “totally different working environment, less desks, more collaboration spaces.”

“Everybody, every brand under one roof, with their different tribes and their different solution portfolios, [and] with the clients collaborating in our offices or in the client offices,” Monsees said.

WPP AUNZ’s Jens Monsees

The arrangement is “not totally signed”, however Monsees teased that “I think in a few weeks from now we will talk again about our new office spaces”.

The campus model was first announced with 2019’s financial results in February 2020, and put in place a month later. Leading the Brisbane campus is Mediacom MD Katherine Williams. Taking up the post in Adelaide was Wavemaker MD Mat Hofmeyer, and in Perth, Steve Harris, the chair and CEO of The Brand Agency.

The campus model streamlines the HR, financial and IT teams in each state and brings WPP brands in each under one consolidated P&L.

When the campus model was announced in 2020, Monsees told the media agencies in Sydney and Melbourne would continue to prioritise their individual performance, and later that the introduction of campuses in the two cities would be considered separately due to the scale of their operations.

Yesterday WPP AUNZ’s financial results revealed that the installation of the campus model in the smaller Australian markets had saved the business $2.7 million.

The new approach to Sydney and Melbourne comes as Monsees sees increasing client demand for integrated services, enabling specialised services from across WPP AUNZ’s agencies to contribute to a project. Agencies with competing clients positioned next to one another in the new buildings is not a concern.

“As all consultancies are working with all different and also conflicting clients, I think there’s always the possibility to put in Chinese walls in terms of our processes service,” Monsees said.

“But also in terms of the war rooms that we build up, especially for our clients. So I don’t see a conflicting situation there, but I do see a lot of demand for integrated solutions.

“I always talk about tech and data implementation, so you need the right tech stack, the right IT structure, then media operations, but hand in hand sometimes we’ve observed that consulting companies are building a fantastic piece of tech but nobody can run it.

“So I think this needs to go hand in hand [with] tech implementation media operations. Then also content creation, because if you are more and more data and tech driven in your media operations, you need more personalised content at scale.”

Encouraging collaboration in this setting ties in with another objective in the ‘Strengthen’ phase of the transformation plan, which is to scale client relationships across the business.

During the investor call, Monsees used the example of WPP’s relationship with KFC, which works with AKQA on tech and data implementation, Group M for media, Ogilvy on creative, OPR on public relations, and Geometry – now VMLY&R Commerce – for consumer activations.

Monsees wants to see this model grow across a number of clients in the group, telling investors the group’s ability to “seamlessly” integrate services gives WPP a “competitive edge”.

Historically, WPP AUNZ has invested in creating bespoke teams for particular clients, such as Union for Bankwest, the Constellation for the Star Casino, and the disbanded Team Red for Vodafone. But, this will remain a rarity.

“Sometimes a client wants to have a bespoke team, but with a bespoke team we have to be careful that they are not over time working in an ivory tower,” Monsees explains.

“They always need to have the infusion of creative innovation and I would be careful with it [becoming] too much [a] siloed, single bespoke team.

“I think we need to have a spoke model where we have a strong core where the client can tap into and these people are dedicated to the client 24/7, knowing the business model, knowing the business model, knowing the people, but on the other side… let’s call in the spokes now and bringing the right expertise to that client and make it easier for the client to access this kind of capability within our large organisation.”

A key argument for the two objectives in the investment talent that will result. Monsees pointed to opportunities for staff to work on different brands and learn new skills from agencies with different capabilities, creating career paths within the business.

Monsees is looking to scale client relationships across the business

WPP AUNZ is currently facing a takeover bid from WPP plc, which is on track to reach the scheme meeting in the third week of April. While unable to comment on the proceedings Monsees stressed that, “we are a hundred percent aligned if the scheme goes through or not. We are working hand in hand on the same strategy and the same transformational role”.

“I’m very excited about the next chapter, which is strengthening. And we now have the right crew, we have the right fast, agile and lean ship to sail, and we have tailwind from the market,” Monsees noted.

“There is one [little investor] story, he said to me ‘in Jens we trust’, and maybe that is the new WPP AUNZ and that compliment is not for me, maybe it’s for the whole team to deliver on our promises, not only to investors but also to our clients.”


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