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Common Ground WPP Marketing

WPP ushers in a new era of ‘warmth’ by doubling down on UN Women partnership


By Katie Deighton, Senior Reporter

September 28, 2018 | 4 min read

WPP is intensifying and refocusing its support of UN Women, committing to enhanced media plans and dedicated creative executions as the holding company enters a more caring era under Mark Read.

UN Draw A Line

J Walter Thompson previously developed the Draw A Line campaign UN Women UK

Read, who was confirmed as the successor to Sir Martin Sorrell earlier this month, has also signed WPP up to the UN’s Women’s Empowerment Principles – a guide for businesses on how to empower women in the workplace, marketplace and community.

Lindsay Pattison, WPP’s chief transformation officer, explained that while it was agencies’ primary business to help clients grow, “we have to have warmth in there today, and WPP in a new era wants to show that we have heart as well”.

Pattison today (27 September) announced reenergised plans to help achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) number five – achieve gender equality and empower all women and girl. The commitment was first established by Sorrell as part of the industry-wide Common Ground initiative in 2016.

J Walter Thompson has been named as the lead creative agency on the #WPPCommonGround project, which will be housed under the new mantra of ‘Creativity for Equality’.

This marks a change from the previous Common Ground strategy, which, over the past two years, has seen the majority of WPP agencies devise campaigns to achieve gender equality campaigns for a number of different organisations and charities on an ad hoc basis.

To date, 33 WPP agencies have developed 26 campaigns under the Common Ground umbrella.

“Over that time, we realised [that] we've got all of these things happening, [but what are we actually doing longer term,” said Claire Brayshay, one of handful of WPP employees that have been officially tasked with driving the initiative forward. “That's why we decided to focus our efforts on what [UN Women] are doing.”

Lindsay Pattison

The company will still encourage staff from other agencies to contribute to the project but added: “We just need to make sure it's focused, so we won't dissipate the effort. That would be a tragedy.”

Ben Kay, WPP’s planning director, will continue to spearhead the relationship with the Common Ground initiative, while roughly 60 employees have signed up to contribute to the work in addition to their daily remit.

GroupM has also announced UN Women as its pro bono charity of choice until 2030 (the date the UN hopes to achieve its SDGs) and will commit securing free media space for its campaigns. “We've already raised over a $1m of free media space and $6m of earned media,” said Pattison, “but we want to significantly increase that.”

GroupM will additionally be tasked with bringing media companies such as Oath and Amazon on board.

‘Creativity for Equality’ will go live across six countries: US, UK, India, Turkey, Thailand and Mexico. More than a dozen WPP agencies across these markets will provide pro bono strategic, creative and media support during two key moments in UN Women’s calendar: 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence in November and International Women’s Day in March.

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