WPP tipped to merge Y&R and VML

WPP has been tipped to merge creative agency Young & Rubicam (Y&R) and digital advertising agency VML, according to multiple media reports. Reuters reported that the move will see the combined group being led by VML CEO Jon Cook, quoting Wall Street Journal sources.

The report added that WPP is also mulling plans to have its direct marketing agency Wunderman work more closely with its creative agencies to improve ad relevancy via consumer data.

WPP was not able to comment on the matter at the time of writing.

Most recently, WPP released its financial results, hot on the heels of the appointment of a new CEO Mark Read (pictured). In the report, Read described the second quarter of 2018 as WPP’s first quarter of like-for-like growth since Q1 2017. He added that the company, which saw reported revenue down 2.1% at £7.493 billion, and like-for-like revenue up 1.6% in the first half of 2018 (Q2 up 2.4%), had focused its efforts on providing more effectively integrated solutions to clients and, in competitive pitches.

This led to the network winning pitches such as adidas, Hilton, Mondelez and T-Mobile, as well as expanding relationships with Danone, Mars and Shell.

Read added that WPP is now looking to “simplify” its organisation “making it easier to manage clients with access”. For example, co-locations have been opened or announced to open in markets such as New York, Kuala Lumpur, Prague and Toronto. Read said the mix of performance by geography and function and a decision to invest in the growing areas of the business resulted in a slightly lower headline PBIT margin.

WPP had confirmed Read’s appointment earlier this month. Prior to the move, Read was global CEO of Wunderman and CEO of WPP Digital. According to Roberto Quarta, chairman of WPP, the board carried out a rigorous selection process, assessing internal and external candidates. He said the process, alongside Reed’s wise and effective stewardship of the business in the last few months, left the board “with no doubt” that he is the right leader for this company.

Earlier this year, WPP acquired full ownership of Y&R and Wunderman joint venture agencies across Southeast Asia and Taiwan, and Dentsu Sudler & Hennessey in Japan. This was following a share swap transaction with Dentsu Inc. The joint venture was first established in 1981. The transaction includes Y&R in Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam; Wunderman in Taiwan and Thailand.

Read also:
Y&R names former Havas MD as Southeast Asia CEO
Peter Skalberg steps down as Y&R Indochina CEO
Y&R folds Yangon branch as part of regional strategy
Y&R Asia names Chris Foster as Matthew Godfrey’s replacement
Y&R Asia president Matthew Godfrey to exit after 7 years with the agency

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