WPP contests cost of $300m Triad data acquisition

Running a big ad holding company must be rather like playing whack-a-mole, except for millions of dollars. Something troublesome keeps popping up just when you think it’s business as usual (if such a state still exists in such companies.)

WPP is suing the former owners of digital retail media business Triad (based in St Petersburg Florida) for $120m after the business it bought in 2016 for $300m proved to be worth markedly less (it says.) It’s also suing the indemnity insurer on the deal for $40m.

Triad allows large retailers to run third-party advertisements on retail media platforms to target consumers as they shop online. At the time of the purchase its biggest client was retail giant Walmart, which subsequently took much such work in-house.

There’s an excellent and detailed report in the St Pete Catalyst here.

You could write a book (maybe someone has) about the perils of buying agencies to gain accounts, particularly one very large one. Back in the day WPP was about to seal a deal to buy London agency The Red Brick Road, set up by former Lowe Group boss Sir Frank Lowe, because it handled the Tesco account – one then WPP boss Sir Martin Sorrell had coveted for years.

But Tesco called an agency review just as everyone got out their fountain pens (the business moved to Wieden+Kennedy, which was not for sale.)

No wonder current WPP CEO Mark Read is keeping his takeover powder dry.

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About Stephen Foster

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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.

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