WPP Group is an international holding company owning 40% of marketing and media companies in the world. As the marketing and media industries have undergone enormous technological and financial changes, clients have also increasingly outsourced negotiations with agencies to procurement specialists. WPP’s companies lacked a unified approach to creating value in negotiations, and difficult negotiations threatened morale and bottom lines.

WPP asked CBI to develop a tailored training course for senior leaders across its network, as a prelude to providing further assistance and training using internal resources.


CBI conducts a thorough assessment of WPP's negotiation challenges and uses these findings to develop a high-level introductory course for senior leaders across the network.

CBI interviewed twenty top executives from across WPP’s operating companies. CBI’s assessment findings were presented in a concise report, which pinpointed the reasons that client negotiations were often falling short.

Based on the report findings, CBI designed and delivered 12 tailored negotiation workshops to more than 500 WPP agency leaders in New York, London, Germany, Spain, Latin America, and Asia.

These workshops were designed to:

  • Instruct leaders in the principles and practice of the Mutual Gains Approach (MGA) to negotiation
  • Demonstrate how leaders can build organizational capability in negotiations
  • Highlight ways that both WPP and CBI could support those efforts

In addition to training senior leaders, CBI:

  • Trained internal coaches and trainers to build MGA negotiation capability from within
  • Conducted case studies
  • Produced two teaching films with professional studios and crews
  • Created teaching simulations for use by internal trainers
  • Laid out ways in which WPP could increase learning and preparation rigor through the use of online tools
  • Helped WPP senior executives to develop a branded internal commercial learning initiative, to share key practices and lessons


CBI’s workshops provide the basis for subsequent and ongoing interventions to help improve WPP’s commercial negotiations.

After delivering the global workshops  to roughly 500 leaders across dozens of WPP companies, CBI surveyed WPP negotiators as they put into practice what they had learned. Many respondents reported that that using the Mutual Gains Approach had helped them to conduct more successful negotiations. Additionally, CBI’s approach impacted WPP's bottom line: in six case examples submitted 90 days after training, reported savings amounted to nearly a million dollars.