Communications giant WPP is about to set up shop in communist-led Cuba – an unprecedented step among the world's major advertising agencies.
Read more: Cuba woos US banks as sanctions ease
The company, set up by Sir Martin Sorrell in 1971, has partnered with state-owned Palco Group to make the move, which marks the latest stage in its Latin America expansion plan.
The decision follows strengthening US and Cuba relations, which yesterday culminated in an agreement between the two sides at to restore diplomatic talks on 20 July. This will pave the way for the island to open up to more business opportunities.
Although the final decision has only just been made, moving to the island has been in the pipeline for a while – the company has reportedly been in contact with a number of Cuban agencies and enterprises since February.
Initially an executive will be appointed to run operations in the island's capital, Havana, where they will be supported by an “established local team”. Their responsibilities will include overseeing data investment management, public relations and public affairs, branding and identity, healthcare communications, direct, digital, promotion and relationship marketing activities.
WPP is expanding to Latin America because of the growth opportunities there. So far business in the region has generated revenues of $1.6bn (£1bn), and brought employment to 20,000 people.
In a statement, the company said:
This marks the start of the inclusion of the largest island in the Caribbean in the list of 112 countries in which WPP operates.WPP is working to provide its international clients with strategic counsel on the institutional and economic environment in Cuba, as well as advice and guidance in planning for eventual Cuba market entry and brand visibility on the island nation.