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WPP merges JWT with Wunderman

WPP is merging one of the oldest creative ad agencies, J. Walter Thompson (JWT), with 60-year-old digital network Wunderman. The new entity will be known as Wunderman Thompson – a creative, data and technology agency built to inspire growth for its clients. Wunderman, which was initially a direct marketing agency, has over the years taken a more digitally-heavy skew, covering duties such as  consulting, e-commerce and data analytics in recent times.

According to a statement from WPP, the new organisation will be distinctively positioned as a provider of end-to-end solutions – through creative, data, commerce, consulting and technology services – at a global scale. “Wunderman and JWT share many core clients, who will now have simpler access to the expertise of both agencies. And, as technology reshapes marketing, Wunderman Thompson will also capitalise on close and long-standing partnerships with Adobe, Amazon, Google, IBM, Microsoft, Salesforce and SAP,” said the release.

The newly formed agency will be led by global chief executive officer Mel Edwards, who is currently the global CEO of Wunderman. Tamara Ingram, CEO of JWT, will become chairman. Edwards took on the role in September after her predecessor Mark Read (pictured) moved on to succeed Martin Sorrell. In Southeast Asia, JWT is headed up by Jacco ter Schegget as Southeast Asia CEO. Meanwhile, Caspar Schlickum is the CEO of Wunderman APAC.

Marketing has reached out to WPP for more details on the role post the merger.

Mark Read, CEO of WPP, said: “Wunderman Thompson is a formidable combination, bringing together the capabilities our clients are demanding – creativity alongside deep expertise in technology, data and commerce – in a single organisation.”

He added that clients want greater simplicity from their partners and this development, like others at WPP, is designed to reshape the company’s around their needs. “It’s great news for our clients that we can combine the best of JWT and Wunderman in a single agency, and it’s great news for WPP as it allows us to compete more effectively in the sectors with the most significant opportunities for future growth,” the statement from Read said.

Edwards said: “To achieve transformative outcomes, clients today need inspiration that is rooted in data-driven insight. I’m really excited to be able to deliver that within one agency. Wunderman Thompson offers precisely what clients want: brilliant creativity, expertise in data and sophisticated technology skills. I couldn’t be more honored to lead this new organisation and its exceptional people.”

Tamara Ingram, chairman, Wunderman Thompson, added: “Both JWT and Wunderman have been built by the commitment of many talented people, whose combined capabilities will further distinguish us in the market. Coming together was a decision driven by the opportunity to better serve our clients, expand our offering and create an agency effectively positioned for the future.”

The merger comes shortly after WPP decided to marry creative agency Y&R with digital agency VML to create VMLY&R. According to the statement then, the new 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”.

Read had then pointed out that the merger was due to the fact that both entities had distinct and complementary strengths across creative, technology and data services that made 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.

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