WPP merges JWT and Wunderman, forms Wunderman Thompson

WPP Group has merged two of its most storied agency networks, J. Walter Thompson  and Wunderman, to form Wunderman Thompson.  The company announced the merger Monday morning.

Wunderman executive Mel Edwards has been appointed CEO of the new agency, and in a press release WPP emphasized the fusion of creativity with digital and technology. “To achieve transformative outcomes, clients today need inspiration that is rooted in data-driven insight,” said Edwards. “Wunderman Thompson offers precisely what clients want: brilliant creativity, expertise in data and sophisticated technology skills.”

JWT is a storied creative agency with a history dating back more than 150 years. It counts the Oscar Meyer weiner song, the Toys R Us kid song and DeBeer’s “A Diamond is Forever” among its creations.

Wunderman, which celebrated its 60th anniversary this year, was the first direct marketing agency when it launched in 1958, and has subsequently expanded into areas such as brand strategy, consulting and data analytics.

WPP said in the release that the new agency will be “distinctly positioned” to provide end-to-end marketing solutions—through creative, data, commerce, consulting and technology services—at a global scale. Wunderman Thompson, which will employ more than 20,000 people in 90 countries, will be operational by early 2019. JWT CEO Tamara Ingram will chair the new organization.

WPP CEO Mark Read said clients are seeking “greater simplicity” from agency partners, and that the move is designed to reshape the company around their needs.

It is the second major merger of WPP networks under Read, who succeeded Sir Martin Sorrell as CEO of the world’s largest holding company earlier this year. In September, it merged VML and Y&R to form VMLY&R.

The merger comes amid a tough period for WPP, which has seen revenues and profits tumble in a difficult market for traditional ad services.

The new entity will be housed WPP’s new “campuses” around the world, including the one being built on Toronto’s waterfront. WPP declined to comment further.

David Brown

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