Another WPP rumour has proven to be true. Whispers about a Y&R VML merger began appearing a few days ago. They have now been confirmed by WPP.
The new agency formed by the merger is VMLY&R, fully integrated, global, digital and creative agency.
The new agency will be led by global chief executive officer, Jon Cook, who is currently global chief executive officer of VML. Cook will report to Mark Read, chief executive officer of WPP. David Sable, former global chief executive officer Y&R, will continue to support Cook, VMLY&R and its clients as non-executive chairman.
The merger is part of Read’s drive for WPP to have “stronger creative agencies with stronger reputations”.
“VML and Y&R have distinct and complementary strengths spanning creative, technology and data services that make them a perfect match,” Read stated.
“This is an important step as we build a new, simpler WPP that provides clients with a fully integrated offering and easy access to our wealth of talent and resources.”
Mike Connaghan, chief executive officer, WPP AUNZ, noted, “This is incredibly exciting news. We have a stated ambition of fewer, bigger, better companies and to my mind, VMLY&R has been an opportunity waiting to happen. Bringing together the brand building and strategic prowess of Y&R with the creative, tech and brand experience driven VML is a match made in heaven. VML and Y&R have partnered in this market for a long time, formalizing that partnership will allow us to accelerate growth for our people, help us build on the relative strengths and scale of each business and offer a fantastic option for clients across Australia and New Zealand.”
Y&R is a central figure in the history of advertising. It has built many of the Fortune 500’s biggest brands and created many of the world’s most famous campaigns. Y&R developed the world’s first and largest brand management tool, its BrandAsset Valuator, whose data and insights fuel its strategic and creative decisions. It regularly wins awards at every major awards festival, including Cannes, D&AD, the Effies and The One Show.
VML, which blends award-winning creativity with deep expertise in digital marketing, is one of the industry’s new breed of forward thinkers. It has been recognised at all international creative award shows, including being named Entertainment Agency of the Year for two years in a row at Cannes Lions; has been noted as a digital leader by Forrester and Gartner; and was one of the first agencies to be certified by the 3% Movement.
Cook commented, “The landscape of our industry is changing rapidly, and we are committed to being an invaluable partner to CMOs around the world. I look forward to leading this unprecedented unification of two exceptional agencies.”
VMLY&R will be an agency of more than 7,000 people globally, and one of WPP’s principal brands. It will be fully operational in early 2019.
Consolidation of its agencies is not a phenomenon just of the Read-led WPP. It had begun during Sorrell’s era mid-2017. In July that year, digital agency, Possible, was absorbed into Wunderman. In September, media agencies, Maxus and MEC merged to become Wavemaker. In January this year, five WPP design consultancies were brought together to become the agency Superunion. In February, PR firms, Burson-Marsteller and Cohn & Wolfe merged to become Burson Cohn & Wolfe.