China Will Soon Be ‘Second-Biggest Market’ Says WPP Chief

Launches marketing school in Shanghai

WPP chief executive Martin Sorrell says China will overtake the U.K. as the firm’s second-biggest market within two to four years.

"I would anticipate that China would become our third market quite quickly and within a few years will be our second-largest market," Sorrell told AFP. At the moment, China is WPP’s fourth-largest market in terms of revenue, behind the U.S., Britain, and Germany. The company’s annual revenue in greater China—including Hong Kong and Taiwan—is around $1.1 billion.

To reflect the growth of the Chinese market, WPP is launching a new school of marketing and communications in Shanghai. Sorrell says the three-year course will help develop local talent and foster more loyalty within the industry.

"The problem with our industry is that people believe the way you develop talent is by stealing it," Sorrell told Adage. "Our competitors, especially the ones who are desperate, are especially adept at stealing talent."

The new school, part of the Shanghai Art and Design Academy, will have 50 students in this year’s inaugural class. “We will provide internships and offer employment after graduation based on each student's performance,” Sorrell told Campaign. “Graduates are not guaranteed positions, much like the real world.”

Last week WPP, the world’s largest advertising company, reported a slow third quarter for 2011. The company reported 4.7 percent growth on revenues of $3.95 billion.

WPP’s biggest rivals, meanwhile, all delivered stronger third-quarter results, with Havas reporting 7.3 percent growth, Omnicom 7.2 percent, and Publicis 6.4 percent.