Incoming WPP CEO Mark Read is preparing to consolidate some of the holding group’s business with a merger between Y&R and digital agency VML being considered, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.
VML CEO Jon Cook, who has led the global business from 30 people in 1996 to now 3000 people across 33 offices, would lead the merged entity that could be called VMLY&R.
The merger speculation comes just weeks after Read was confirmed as the new CEO of WPP, succeeding Martin Sorrell who departed the business after allegations of misconduct.
Read, who was previously the CEO of Wunderman, is expected to unveil his plans for the holding company at the end of this year, with further consolidation expected.
WPP acquired VML in 2001 with the digital business originally under the Y&R banner, before being spun out into a separate agency several years ago.
Y&R and VML have a history of collaboration and globally have worked on a number of joint projects, but in recent years have operated as completely separate agencies.
VML in Australia is run by managing director and ECD Aden Hepburn and Y&R is run by AUNZ CEO Pete Bosilkovski.
Consolidation across WPP's marquee creative agencies comes as agencies like Y&R, JWT, Grey and Ogilvy face shrinking margins and slowing growth. In WPP's half year financial results, the company's digital and media buying operations outperformed its legacy creative agencies.
Prior to his sudden departure, Sorrell floated the idea of merging JWT and Grey globally, a source told AdNews at the time.
In Australia, WPP has been undergoing its own consolidation since its 2016 merger with STW. The White Agency was merged with Grey, AKQA and DT merged and Landor and Designworks came together. Read more.
WPP said it “declines to comment on merger speculation”.
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