PROFILE: HOW TO BUILD AN AD GIANT

1975
Martin Sorrell joins advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi, rising to become group finance director.

1985
Sorrell searches for a listed company through which he can build a marketing firm. He alights on Wire and Plastic Products – a British manufacturer of wire baskets – and buys 15 per cent of the firm.

1987
The renamed WPP makes its first major acquisition, a $556m hostile takeover of J. Walter Thompson.

1989
WPP is listed on Nasdaq. Ogilvy Group is bought for $864m.

1993
Founds in-house research division Kantar.

1998
Joins FTSE 100 and forms alliance with Japanese agency Asatsu-DK.

2005
Buys Grey Global Group for around $1.5bn.

2008
Buys market research firm TNS for £1.6bn and relocates to Dublin for tax reasons.

2012
Announces year-end profits of over £1bn but faces rebellion over executive pay.