WPP merges global networks Y&R with VML to form VMLY&R to be led by VML's Jon Cook

Jon-Cook-VML.jpgWPP today announced the creation of a new agency, VMLY&R, uniting two of its leading brands to deliver a fully integrated digital and creative offering to clients on a global scale.

The new agency will be led by Global Chief Executive Officer Jon Cook (left), who is currently Global CEO of VML. Jon will report to Mark Read, Chief Executive Officer of WPP. David Sable, former Global CEO of Y&R, will continue to support Jon, VMLY&R and its clients as Non-Executive Chairman as he transitions to a new role in WPP.

It is not yet clear who will be the merged group's chief creative officer, with New York-based Tony Granger (pictured below) currently in charge of Y&R, versus Kansas City-based Debbi Vandeven (pictured below) heading VML.

How the merger will pan out in the Asia-Pacific region is also unclear at this stage.
tony-granger-young-rubicam-3.jpgDebbi-Vandeven-VML.jpgVMLY&R will be an agency of more than 7,000 people, and one of WPP's principal brands. It will be fully operational in early 2019.

Y&R is one of the world's most awarded agency networks, consistently recognized at every major awards festival, including Cannes, D&AD, the Effies and The One Show.

VML has established itself as one of the most forward-looking agencies in today's marketplace - blending award-winning creativity with deep expertise in digital marketing. The agency has been recognized at all international creative award shows, including being named Entertainment Agency of the Year for two years in a row at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity; has been noted as a digital leader by Forrester and Gartner; and was one of the first agencies to be certified by the 3% Movement, an organization that champions female creative leadership, diversity and inclusion.

Says Mike Connaghan, CEO, WPP AUNZ: "This is incredibly exciting news. We have a stated ambition of fewer, bigger, better companies and to my mind VML Y&R has been an opportunity waiting to happen. Bringing together the Brand building and strategic prowess of Y&R with the creative, tech and brand experience driven VML is a match made in heaven.  VML and Y&R have partnered in this market for a long time, formalizing that partnership will allow us to accelerate growth for our people, help us build on the relative strengths and scale of each business and offer a fantastic option for clients across Australia and New Zealand."

Says Read: "VMLY&R will be a powerful brand experience offering and a core agency brand for WPP. VML and Y&R have distinct and complementary strengths spanning creative, technology and data services that make them a perfect match. This is an important step as we build a new, simpler WPP that provides clients with a fully integrated offering and easy access to our wealth of talent and resources."

Says Cook: "I'm thrilled for the VMLY&R team as we start this journey together and harness the best of each agency to deliver culturally relevant world-class work. The landscape of our industry is changing rapidly, and we are committed to being an invaluable partner to CMOs around the world. I look forward to leading this unprecedented unification of two exceptional agencies."

Adds Sable: "VMLY&R has been nearly 18 years in the making as we have worked to build two successful brands and develop partnerships together with clients such as Colgate-Palmolive, Dell and the U.S. Navy. I'm proud of this pinnacle moment as we are now able to provide clients one robust, seamless offering. I look forward to supporting Jon and our VMLY&R client partners as I take on my new role within WPP."

Leave a comment