Mark Read, WPP CEO

The story of WPP’s journey from a manufacturer of wire baskets to the world’s biggest ad firm has been told innumerable times. No one could doubt the corporate success of Sir Martin Sorrell in turning the company into a global behemoth with revenues and profits in the billions and changing the marketing landscape in the process.

But it is clear WPP wants to put the Sorrell era behind it. The announcement of Read’s appointment did not once mention or thank his predecessor, instead seeking to make a break with the past and talk about the company’s future.

There are many reasons why this is necessary. As is becoming increasingly clear, WPP’s old model of growing through acquisitions and stripping out costs is no longer the best way to build (or maintain) a company. The new WPP must be less about cost cutting and more about understanding clients’ needs and building quality relationships.

WPP also needs to find new ways to make money. The company is overly reliant on revenues from media, production and creative, all of which are under pressure from clients looking to cut costs, introduce zero-based budgeting and bring services in-house.

Instead, WPP must look at areas where brands are wanting to invest. The creation of chief customer officer roles shows the focus of the marketer is more towards the full customer experience and the end-to-end customer journey.

But the likes of WPP are poorly equipped to handle this, leaving the door open for the consultancies to grab a foothold in the industry. WPP under Read needs to better understand these new priorities and…