WPP firms Burston-Marsteller and Cohn and Wolfe merge

PR firms Burson-Marsteller and Cohn & Wolfe merged to form new WPP firm Burson Cohn & Wolfe / Zach Miles via Unsplash

WPP today (February 27) announced the merger of public relations firms Burson-Marsteller and Cohn & Wolfe to create Burson Cohn & Wolfe (BCW).

BCW will be helmed by current Cohn & Wolfe chief executive Donna Imperato. Current Burston-Marsteller worldwide chairman and chief executive Don Baer has been named BCW's chairman; he will be focused on "delivering high-level counsel for Burson Cohn & Wolfe clients."

In a statement from WPP, the two agencies will combine Cohn & Wolfe's expertise in "digitally-driven, creative content and integrated communications" across the consumer, healthcare and technology sector and Burson's "strength in public affairs, corporate and crisis management, technology and research." The new entity has a total of 4,000 employees across 42 different countries.

Sir Martin Sorrell of WPP stated that the decision to merge was driven "by strong, compatible capabilities and expertise, a combined ability to deliver integrated solutions across multiple sectors, and the scale to compete with the largest communications agencies in the world.

“We have a major opportunity and the right team to take this new agency to even higher levels of success," Sorrell added. "After years of strong leadership and delivering excellent results at Cohn & Wolfe, I know that Donna will ensure the success of the combined business. I would also like to thank Don for his contribution as CEO of Burson-Marsteller over the last six years. I know he will continue his dedication to serving clients and now be able to focus entirely on high-level counsel to those clients as Chairman.”

In order to create a seamless transition and integration, Imperato had assembled an executive group comprising select senior leaders from both agencies. The executive group has been tasked to formulate the best ways to bring the agencies together, "ensuring continuity and excellence in client service," according to a release.

Imperato said: “The launch of Burson Cohn & Wolfe creates a new entity in the world of communications that offers our clients unparalleled, integrated digital solutions grounded in earned media. We are energized by the fresh offerings we will bring to both our clients and our employees.”

The creation of BCW follows the merger of five of WPP's branding and identity agencies — Brand Union, The Partners, Lambie-Nairn, Addison Group and VBAT — to form Superunion.

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