WPP has announced a significant development in its services by merging two of its prominent agencies, Wunderman Thompson and VMLY&R. The newly formed entity will be known as VML and is set to become the world’s largest creative agency.
This strategic merger combines the strengths and expertise of two highly awarded creative agencies, known for their excellence in commerce, customer experience, and marketing technology. VML will provide comprehensive support to clients in creative brand growth strategies and transformation initiatives, leveraging state-of-the-art data operations, technology platforms, and partnerships with leading technology companies. Furthermore, it will offer specialized services for healthcare companies and B2B marketers.
The agencies’ respective client bases, functional competencies, and geographical reach make them highly complementary. The combined company will operate in 64 markets and have a workforce exceeding 30,000 professionals.
Key leadership positions within VML include Jon Cook, who becomes the Global CEO, and Mel Edwards, who takes on the role of Global President. The management team will comprise experienced leaders from both agencies.
In discussing the merger, Cook emphasized the importance of connecting brand experience, commerce, and customer experiences in building strong brands and businesses. He highlighted the immediate opportunity for VML to offer an integrated approach to clients, citing their unique creative achievements, customer experience, and commerce depth.
Edwards noted the timely and unprecedented scale of the new agency. She expressed excitement at the opportunity to shape the future of modern marketing worldwide, emphasizing the growth opportunities for their clients and the industry at large.
Wunderman Thompson and VMLY&R, which were both launched in 2018, have seen continuous growth and success through client relationships, new business acquisitions, and creative achievements. They have earned recognition as leading creative agencies globally, with accolades such as Campaign’s Integrated Network of the Year, Ad Age Standout Agency, and high rankings at prestigious events like the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity and the Ad Age A-List.
WPP’s investment in commerce services, global digital experience services, global marketing service providers, and marketing measurement and optimization has also been acknowledged through industry reports like the Forrester Wave. Both Wunderman Thompson and VMLY&R have been recognized as “Leaders” in these areas.
Mark Read, CEO of WPP, discussed the significance of scale in the rapidly evolving world of AI and technology-driven marketing. VML is seen as a solution that combines exceptional creative abilities with deep expertise in data, marketing technology, and platforms. It is an essential step for WPP as it continues to evolve its offerings for the future and streamline its business operations to leverage the benefits of scale.
The merger aims to deliver an integrated suite of capabilities for clients worldwide. In today’s marketing landscape, there is a growing expectation for seamless connections between brand advertising and technology solutions and platforms. VML is poised to address this critical business imperative.
The newly merged VML agency will be operational from January 1, 2024. The merger is set to provide a more comprehensive and unified approach to creative and marketing services, further enhancing the portfolio of offerings available to WPP clients.