WPP AUNZ says whiteGREY will sit within AKQA Group

Paige Murphy
By Paige Murphy | 13 November 2020
Jens Monsees

WPP AUNZ CEO Jens Monsees has confirmed creative agency whiteGREY will now sit within AKQA Group.

It is the second merger for whiteGREY, which brought together The White Agency and Grey back in 2017.

The merger saw joint-CEOs Paul Worboys and Miles Joyce exit shortly after it was complete with Lee Simpson taking the reins in 2018. At the time, former WPP AUNZ CEO Mike Connaghan admitted that the merger hadn't been handled perfectly.

The latest move comes following WPP’s global announcement to retire the Grey brand and consolidate the business into its innovation and digital experience arm AKQA.

“We are 100% aligned with the global strategy and we believe it’s the perfect fit to the strategy that we laid out at the beginning of the year,” Monsees told AdNews.

“Bringing both these great assets together will allow a broader product portfolio and also a solutions base that can move seamlessly across creative, content, tech, data and experience.”

The leadership team for AKQA Group is still to be confirmed.

Brian Vella will still continue to lead AKQA in Australia and the APAC region with whiteGREY CEO Lee Simpson’s new role still to be decided.

Monsees says he is currently in talks with both leaders and their teams, as well as clients, to put together a timeline for the move.

Both agencies are already in the same buildings in Sydney and Melbourne but the teams will likely move in together.

Monsees says he doesn’t see any redundancies happening with the merger but did say the business will be “heavily” investing in digital capabilities.

“I think both teams can profit from each other broadly in their future career development because you cannot live without the creative side and you cannot live without the tech and data play,” he says.

“I think it is a great opportunity for cross-brand and cross-team career paths in the future.”

The merger continues WPP’s plans to further consolidate its businesses around the world.

whiteGREY is the latest business to be merged into AKQA.

The global digital experience agency previously absorbed Australian digital agency DT in 2017.

Last year, WPP rolled its digital marketing and media consultancy Switched On into the agency as well, which it said was in direct response to client interest and demand for digital solutions across all brand interactions, from acquisition through to retention.

The holding group also acquired New Zealand martech business Dominion at the start of the year and merged it under the AKQA brand.

AKQA recently won the media account for buy now, pay later business Afterpay from Dentsu’s Vizeum.

In a statement at the time of the win, the agency said it would be “seconding talent and resources from across the group if required”.

Monsees says GroupM remains WPP’s media arm.

“We are currently consolidating lots of our media businesses under GroupM,” he says.

“That is the general strategic direction of having fewer and stronger brands.”

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