Under the hood of the new WPP AUNZ structure

Rachael Micallef
By Rachael Micallef | 5 April 2016

The newly merged STW and WPP business will be given an expanded senior management board which CEO Mike Connaghan says will be tasked with integrating agencies and assets across the two businesses.

Speaking to AdNews following shareholder approval on the merger yesterday, Connaghan says the move will make the Australian and New Zealand business the "gold standard of horizonality".

Globally, WPP has a focus on 'horizonality', with incentive plans designed to encourage agencies to work together. Connaghan says this view is similar to the focus STW has had on partnerships across its group.

To push that view in the business, the 14-strong STW Executive Council, which was formed during its strategic review last year, will be expanded into a larger management board, comprising executives from both the WPP and STW arms of the business.

“That group of people are going to be very much charged with driving collaboration and understanding,” Connaghan says.

Tasked with heading up that collaboration will be group business director Rob Currie, who joined the business in September last year.

The merger of the two advertising networks was approved by shareholders yesterday (4 April) and sees WPP pick up 61.5% of the company and STW acquiring WPP's local business units.

Connaghan says the initial focus of the merger will be continuing its strategy of servicing 100% of a client's customer experience budget, and that getting agencies to collaborate is a key tenant of that.

“We have really strong local business and now iconic global brands,” Connaghan says. “If we can get them to work better and closer together we think there is enormous scope for not only those companies but for the people within them to advance, and also to drive value for clients.”

The business, which will be renamed WPP AUNZ following a shareholder vote at the Annual General Meeting in May, is also embarking on a restructure to organise the 90 agencies under its banner into business units.

While an exact structure hasn't been settled on yet, it is thought areas will include media, research and insights, PR and government, agencies (broadly its creative shops), shopper and production, and digital and specialist units which will comprise companies with unique focuses such as multi-cultural agency Etcom and healthcare agencies such as Ogilvy CommonHealth.

“The structure that we are going to put in place will absolutely demand that collaboration, co-operation and horizonality,” Connaghan says.

He also says starting now the the senior management will be going on a “roadshow” to communicate to staff the impact of the merger.

“We're going to see every single person in the group face-to-face and explain what has happened today and what it means going forward. We're going to 'over communicate' the benefits that we see of the group company together,” Connaghan says.

“That's going to be a massive push for us to really drive collaboration.”

The merged company also unveiled new black and white branding yesterday.

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