WPP is at it again, merging its agencies Wunderman Thompson and VMLY&R to form VML. VML will be operational from 1 January 2024. Leading the newly formed VML as its global CEO is Jon Cook with Mel Edwards as its global president. Immediate leadership appointments include Debbi Vandeven as global chief creative officer, Eric Campbell as global chief client officer and Audrey Kuah and Yi-Chung Tay as co-CEOs APAC to name a few.
Through the merger, VML will be equipped to support clients on creative brand growth strategy and transformation initiatives, all powered by data operations, technology platforms and partnerships with experienced technology companies. VML will also provide offerings for healthcare companies and B2B marketers. The combined company will have more than 30,000 people in 64 markets, according to a statement by the company.
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“The future of building strong brands and businesses requires the interconnectivity of brand experience, commerce and customer experiences,” said Cook. “We’re especially excited to present our new offering to the industry as we don’t believe there is another company as creatively awarded with our depth in customer experience and commerce,” he added.
“Scale matters in today’s world as AI and technology transform marketing and global clients look to simplify their relationships,” said Mark Read, CEO of WPP.
“It’s another important step forward for WPP as we continue to reshape our offer for the future, simplify our business and unlock further benefits of scale,” Read explained.
Read also said that by combining WPP’s best-performing agencies, VML will be able to deliver a fully integrated suite of capabilities to clients in every market while providing marketers with a seamless link between brand advertising and technology solutions and platforms.
In Asia, Wunderman Thompson appointed Audrey Kuah as CEO in September. Kuah expertise in marketing and advertising has been deployed across industries and geographies for over two decades. She joins Wunderman Thompson from OCBC Bank where she was head, group marketing, global consumer and financial services, responsible for driving business and growth-focused marketing initiatives.
Meanwhile, Tay has been with VMLY&R for over five years in the role of CEO, focused on managing the agency’s regional growth through cross-discipline integration, planning and organisational strategy. Before VMLY&R was established in 2018, he developed one of China’s most sought after digital marketing agency – im2.0 – which was later acquired by VML and became VML China under his continued leadership
The merger comes almost five years after WPP merged VML and Y&R to form VMLY&R. The entity was fully operational in early 2019 and led by Cook as global CEO. At the merger, Read said VML and Y&R have distinct and complementary strengths spanning creative, technology and data services that make them a perfect match. The move was said to be an important step to building a simpler WPP that provides clients with a fully integrated offering.
In the same year, under Read’s leadership, WPP merged one of the oldest creative ad agencies, J. Walter Thompson (JWT), with 60-year-old digital network Wunderman. The new entity was then named Wunderman Thompson - a creative, data and technology agency built to inspire growth for its clients. According to a statement from WPP then, the new organisation would be “distinctively positioned as a provider of end-to-end solutions – through creative, data, commerce, consulting and technology services – at a global scale”.
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