afaqs! news bureau

Wunderman Thompson and VMLY&R merged to create VML; operational from Jan 2024

Jon Cook named VML Global CEO and Mel Edwards VML Global President. The duo will lead a workforce of 30,000 across 64 markets.

WPP has announced the merger of Wunderman Thompson and VMLY&R. The combined entity will be known as VML and will be the industry’s largest creative company.

VML has joined two creative agencies to form one entity that will have excellent capabilities in regards to commerce, customer experience, and marketing technology. This new company will be able to support clients with creative brand growth strategy and transformation initiatives. All of this will be made possible by the company's data operations, technology platforms, and partnerships with leading technology companies. Additionally, VML will have an exceptional offer for healthcare companies and B2B marketers.

Respective client bases, functional expertise and geographic strengths mean the agencies are highly complementary and the combined company will have more than 30,000 people in 64 markets.

Jon Cook becomes VML Global CEO and Mel Edwards VML Global President, with the broader management team bringing together strong leaders from across both companies.

“The future of building strong brands and businesses requires the interconnectivity of brand experience, commerce and customer experiences,” said Jon Cook, Global CEO. “We recognised the immediate opportunity to create what every consultancy and advertising agency aspires to build with the formation of VML. We’re especially excited to present our new offering to the industry as we don’t believe there is another company as creatively awarded with our depth in customer experience and commerce.

“This is the right suite of capabilities, offered at just the right moment, at unprecedented scale,” said Mel Edwards, Global President. “It’s incredibly exciting because with this new agency we have the chance to shape the future of modern marketing in every key market around the world. The opportunities it affords our people and the growth we can deliver for our clients at a global scale make this a real game-changer for each business and the wider industry.”

Wunderman Thompson and VMLY&R were launched in 2018 and have experienced sustained growth since their inception – through client development, new business and acquisitions. Each agency is globally renowned for its creativity and capabilities, with Wunderman Thompson named as Campaign’s Integrated Network of the Year and an Ad Age Standout Agency, and VMLY&R ranked #7 globally at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity and #2 on the Ad Age A-List.

Mark Read, CEO of WPP, said: “Scale matters in today’s world as AI and technology transform marketing and global clients look to simplify their relationships. VML will combine world-class creativity with deep expertise in data, marketing technology and platforms to deliver competitive advantage for ambitious brands. It’s another important step forward for WPP as we continue to reshape our offer for the future, simplify our business and unlock further benefits of scale.

Immediate leadership appointments include Debbi Vandeven, global chief creative officer; Eric Campbell, global chief client officer; Juan Pablo Jurado, CEO LATAM; Ewen Sturgeon, CEO EMEA; and Audrey Kuah and Yi-Chung Tay, Co-CEOs APAC.

Wunderman Thompson and VMLY&R have partnered globally across clients such as Colgate-Palmolive, Dell, Ford, Microsoft, Nestlé, The Coca-Cola Company and more.

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