WPP launches new product development company, Big, in first move since Jens Monsees revealed new strategy

WPP AUNZ has launched a new company, called Big, focused on product development. The new offering will create new categories, new markets and new revenue for clients, WPP said, announcing the first big move since new CEO Jens Monsees announced his vision for the company last month.

Big will operate under a new model, which involves partnering with clients in return for a royalty, success fee, or flat percentage once milestones are met.

The Big logo

Big launches with a team of three, but WPP told Mumbrella it will collaborate with a broader team of more than 20 specialists from across the WPP group and beyond, including technologists, creatives, business leaders, data analysts, and psychologists. That team will be led by Giles Day, who joins Big as founder and chief creative officer from WPP stablemate Landor – where he was executive creative director for almost three years.

The business added that it will achieve success by “using data to define the opportunity” and through “an understanding of people to create desire then using all that intelligence to build a real product or service”.

“Many Australian businesses and organisations have exhausted cost-cutting measures. And while it’s important to always review the cost of operations, it’s also important that organisations also look at other revenue streams to drive top-line growth. That’s where big can come in – with NPD [new product development],” Day said.

Big founder and chief creative officer Giles Day (L) with Clara Klaassen, head of industrial design

Under Monsees’ new strategy, the leadership model will be streamlined. WPP companies – such as media agency arm Group M, PR firms like Ogilvy and Opr, and creative agencies including VMLY&R and Wunderman Thompson – in smaller markets will be accountable for each others’ performance, incentivising them to work “closer together” under one P&L. Campuses will be set up in those smaller markets, such as Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth. And the updates will “significantly change our operating model”, according to Monsees.

The unveiling of the new direction coincided with the holding company’s full-year results, in which headline earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) were down 8.7% to $91.8m and net sales down 2.6% to $712.5m. Its statutory results showed a net loss of $227.57m.

Monsees started in the role last October

The results noted that WPP’s brand portfolio would continue to be stripped back. But Monsees said new company Big is an indication of exactly where WPP wants to be, and what the strategy may look like in practice.

“Big is an excellent example of where our company is heading; using our vast data and tech talent teamed with our creative depth to innovate and develop new business models,” Monsees said.

“It’s also about putting the client at the centre of what we do. By collaborating with clients through NPD [new product development], we are providing a true partnership that meets their changing needs in a fast-changing market.”


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