After days of speculation, WPP has confirmed that it is merging advertising agency Y&R with digital agency VML to create a new outfit dubbed VMLY&R.
The consolidated agency will be run by VML boss Jon Cook who takes up the role of global chief executive officer and will report to WPP head Mark Read.
Read, who called for WPP to have “stronger creative agencies with stronger reputations” in his first public appearance as its CEO last month, said VMLY&R would become a “core agency brand” for the world's biggest marcomms group.
“VML and Y&R have distinct and complementary strengths spanning creative, technology and data services that make them a perfect match,” he said. “This is an important step as we build a new, simpler WPP that provides clients with a fully integrated offering and easy access to our wealth of talent and resources.”
Cook added: “The landscape of our industry is changing rapidly, and we are committed to being an invaluable partner to CMOs around the world. I look forward to leading this unprecedented unification of two exceptional agencies.”
David Sable, the global chief executive and face of Y&R, will initially take up the post of non-executive chairman before transitioning into a new, as yet unannounced, role within WPP.
He said: “VMLY&R has been nearly 18 years in the making as we have worked to build two successful brands and develop partnerships together with clients such as Colgate-Palmolive, Dell and the U.S. Navy. I’m proud of this pinnacle moment as we are now able to provide clients one robust, seamless offering.”
VMLY&R will have a 7,000 strong workforce once it is fully operational early next year, according to WPP.
It's the latest move in a consolidation drive that began under the watch of former WPP chief Sir Martin Sorrell.
In July 2017, it folded its digital agency Possible into Wunderman, which was quickly followed two months later with the merger of media agencies Maxus and MEC into Wavemaker. In January, five of its design consultancies were consolidated into one agency called Superunion.
It has also merged its PR firms Burson-Marsteller and Cohn & Wolfe to create Burson Cohn & Wolfe.