Pay bonanza for WPP’s top media execs as Sorrell locks in top talent to fend off Omnicom/Publicis


It’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good, as they say, and the stuttering (possibly faltering) Omnicom/Publicis merger appears to have benefited the wallets of a number of top WPP media executives.

When the plan to merge Omnicom and Publicis was unveiled last summer it was clear that one of the things the new leviathan needed to do was strengthen its media operation. While Omnicom’s OMD was a powerful conventional media operation and Publicis Groupe had an extensive digital line-up, there were undoubted gaps. And, obviously, there was a big job for someone to do (possibly an outsider) in creating a new group-wide media juggernaut along the lines of rival WPP’s GroupM, which oversees Maxus, MEC, Mediacom and Mindshare.

imagesSo one of the many things WPP boss Sir Martin Sorrell (left) put his mind to was the need to retain his top media talent. And the end result? Big juicy rises and new extended contracts (and you don’t argue with a WPP contract) for Sorrell’s top media execs.

Now, of course, it looks like the Omnicom/Publicis merger may not happen due to tax issues and other disagreements but the WPP winners have already received their incentives to stay and they’re keeping them.

So who are they? We don’t know that, alas, but we might assume that the top managers at GroupM – who include global president Dominic Proctor, North America boss Kelly Clark, global digital boss Rob Norman and UK boss Stephen Allan (all Brits apart from Clark) plus the heads of the various media agencies, won’t be worrying about paying the mortgage in the near future.

Such joy and happiness contrasts rather starkly with the position of Omnicom and Publicis execs who are still waiting to see what the future holds. Clients of the two agencies aren’t very happy either it seems.

When the story about the putative merger hitting big tax problems in the UK broke (Omnicom/Publicis wants tax residency in the UK to benefit from a falling corporation tax rate but doesn’t want to move its top management here) clients were emailed minutes before to tell them what was happening (or, in this case, possibly not happening).

Strangely enough, this didn’t go down well at all.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.


  1. The ignorance of the editors of this site is sometimes mindblowing… Stephen Allan is not anymore in a GroupM, nor a UK roles since 2008…

  2. Stephen Foster

    Have you seen this?

  3. I did. It say global CEO – your article says UK boss. So with all due respect the article got at least one fact wrong by calling him the UK boss (a fact verified by the link you have shared).

    We could debate whether him working for MediaCom, part of GroupM and not having a GroupM role (like everyone else your article mentions) is right or wrong, as MediaCom is indeed a part of GroupM.

  4. We could debate that but, you know, we have lives.

    Go and stand in the corner for an hour Stephen.