Following September’s merger of VML and Y&R, WPP has today announced that J. Walter Thompson, the world’s oldest existing ad agency brand, will be folded in with digital agency Wunderman.
The merger follows WPP’s now tried and tested recipe of putting a tech-driven emerging favourite together with a more storied traditional creative agency brand – and industry watchers will be curious to see if it forms a roadmap for future restructuring within the holding company.
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 J. Walter Thompson, will become Chairman. As for other senior roles, they have yet to be defined and announced. The current Global CCO at Wunderman is Daniel Bonner, though he’s tight lipped about whether that role will transfer across to Wunderman Thompson. JWT scrapped the role of Global CCO altogether in March this year, so it remains to be seen how the new entity will structure and approach its creative leadership.
Wunderman Thompson has been created to provide what a statement describes as ‘end-to-end solutions – through creative, data, commerce, consulting and technology services – at a global scale’.
As it happens, Wunderman and J. Walter Thompson already share a lot of core clients and, in fact, office space in many parts of the world. According to WPP CEO Mark Read, the move will allow existing and new clients a more simplified access to the suite of capabilities on offer.
“Wunderman Thompson is a formidable combination, bringing together the capabilities our clients are demanding – award-winning creativity alongside deep expertise in technology, data and commerce – in a single organization,” he said in a statement. “Clients want greater simplicity from their partners and this development, like others at WPP, is designed to reshape our company 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.”
Mel Edwards, Global Chief Executive Officer, Wunderman Thompson, 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 honoured to lead this new organization 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. As Wunderman Thompson we will deliver world-class services in every geography, and work that is more meaningful and more impactful than ever.”
The news follows a tricky few years for J. Walter Thompson, which most recently suffered the loss of the global Ford creative account to BBDO. Both JWT and Wunderman collaborated on a joint pitch on the account in late summer.