WPP confirms VML and Y&R merger to form VMLY&R

WPP has confirmed that it is merging VML and Y&R to form VMLY&R, a move which comes days after the network was tipped to be uniting the two agency brands. The new entity will be fully operational in early 2019 and consist of more than 7,000 people, a statement read.

VMLY&R will be led by Jon Cook as global CEO, who reports to Mark Read, CEO of WPP. Prior to the move, Cook was global CEO of VML. Meanwhile, David Sable, former global CEO of Y&R will continue to support the new entity as non-executive chairman while transitioning to a new role within WPP.

Based in Singapore and China respectively, Tripti Lochan (pictured right) and Yi Chung Tay (pictured left) have been named co-CEOs of VMLY&R Asia, VML confirmed to Marketing. Prior to the move, Lochan was CEO of Southeast Asia and India, while Tay was CEO of VML China.

According to the statement, the new combined entity looks to combine brand experience and brand advertising, drawing on the complementary expertise of VML and Y&R to create connected brands that drive value for clients. This is in a bid to “deliver a contemporary, fully integrated digital and creative offering to clients on a global scale”.

“VML and Y&R have distinct and complementary strengths spanning creative, technology and data services that make them a perfect match. 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,” Read said.

“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,” Cook added.

Sable said that VMLY&R has been “nearly 18 years in the making” as both agencies have worked to build two successful brands and develop partnerships together with clients such as Colgate-Palmolive, Dell and the U.S. Navy.

“I’m proud of this pinnacle moment as we are now able to provide clients one robust, seamless offering. I look forward to supporting Jon and our VMLY&R client partners as I take on my new role within WPP,” Sable added.

Meanwhile, Y&R Asia being led by president Chris Foster. The agency most recently appointed Andrea Conyard as Southeast Asia CEO, a role spanning across Singapore, Malaysia Indonesia,  Myanmar, Philippines and Vietnam. Prior to the move, Conyard was group MD of Havas.

Conyard's appointment came on the back of several leadership exits, including  Y&R Indochina CEO Peter Skalberg and Y&R Philippines CEO, Onat Roldan. Earlier this year, WPP decided to close its Y&R Yangon branch by the end of June 2018.

Marketing has reached out to WPP and Y&R for additional details.

The move to unite VML and Y&R is also one of several mergers WPP has made over the past year, the most recent being Burson-Marsteller and Cohn & Wolfe to create Burson Cohn & Wolfe. Before that, WPP also made the decision to merge Maxus and MEC to form Wavemaker.