WPP is to merge global ad agency J. Walter Thompson and digital agency Wunderman to form ‘Wunderman Thompson’, which will be headquartered in New York and London.
Mel Edwards (pictured, left) will remain chief executive after being promoted to global CEO of Wunderman in September. JWT worldwide chief executive Tamara Ingram (pictured, right) will serve as the new entity’s global chairman.
Speculation of such a merger had been rife as new chief executive Mark Read continues to consolidate and simplify the group’s structure.
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 and in September he brought together advertising agency Y&R with digital agency VML to create a new outfit dubbed VMLY&R.
It has also merged its PR firms Burson-Marsteller and Cohn & Wolfe to create Burson Cohn & Wolfe.
Read said this latest entity would be a "formidable combination" and bring together "award-winning creativity alongside deep expertise in technology, data and commerce."
“Clients want greater simplicity from their partners and this development, like others at WPP, is designed to reshape our company around their needs," he said.
“It’s great news for our clients that we can combine the best of JWT and Wunderman in a single agency, and it’s great news for WPP as it allows us to compete more effectively in the sectors with the most significant opportunities for future growth.”
Wunderman Thompson will employ approximately 20,000 people across 90 markets.
Edwards said she was "excited" to deliver about what the new offering will bring to clients. "Wunderman Thompson offers precisely what clients want: brilliant creativity, expertise in data and sophisticated technology skills," she added.
"I couldn’t be more honored to lead this new organization and its exceptional people.”
WPP said the agency will be fully operational in early 2019.