WPP continues to mop up creative agencies and talent with the merger of Geometry into VMLY&R to create VMLY&R Commerce, billed as an end-to-end 'creative commerce company' that combines the talent and reach of both.Capitalising on an explosion in e-commerce growth VMLY&R Commerce will be led by global chief executive officer Beth Ann Kaminkow, currently global chief executive officer of Geometry.
What is VMLR&R Commerce?
VMLY&R Commerce will stand apart from its WPP brethren as a distinct standalone entity within the VMLY&R global network, focused on unifying client strategies around commerce to improve brand equity and conversion.
By operating as a distinct unit WPP, is signalling the central importance of the newly formed division to VMLY&R’s brand and customer experience offer.
Assuming the reins of the enlarged business Kaminkow said: “Consumer experiences today are centred on commerce, making it increasingly important to our clients’ marketing and media decisions. As the pandemic accelerates new consumer behaviours and expectations, commerce is fast becoming the next channel for the most creative engagements and experiences. With the launch of VMLY&R Commerce, we can now offer our clients creative commerce at scale, harnessing data and technology to build brands and sell products across channels.”
Kaminkow brings a wealth of experience with Geometry, which has held the hand of major clients such as Coca-Cola, Lifebuoy and Saga City navigate the pitfalls of a rapidly evolving commerce landscape.
In recent years VMLY&R has witnessed an upsurge in demand for its customer experience services, which neatly aligns with Geometry’s field of expertise. VMLY&R Commerce will utilise Geometry’s proprietary Living Commerce platform to inform its approach to retail, design, experiential and innovation.
The combined business will count over 11,000 employees on its books spread across 80 countries.
Jon Cook, VMLY&R Global chief executive officer, added: “We have been partnering closely across many clients and it is clear we share a vision and belief in the role commerce plays in a consumer’s journey and creating connected brands. Importantly, we both have a deep passion for leading our businesses with a focus on culture – both internally and with our client partners which is essential in creating a new company built for the future.”
Why it matters
The tie-up comes in the wake of a broader consolidation in the sector as competitors pursue scale, most notably the unification of Grey and AKQA which has created a 6,000 person rival spanning 50 nations.
WPP chief Mark Read has been the mastermind behind the expansion of its digital offer and blended approach to client work.
This strategy is supported by a simplification of WPP’s governing structure through mergers, a policy Read claims has been ’validated’ by WPP’s recent financial performance. Back in August Read remarked: “VMLY&R and Wunderman Thompson were two of our best performing integrated agencies. It shows that a traditional siloed approach to marketing doesn’t work.”
Fast forward to the present and Read is more effusive, stating: “2020 has seen explosive growth in e-commerce as brands adapt to a new reality. This new company will offer outstanding creativity, industry-leading commerce expertise, and sophisticated data and technology skills to help brands grow in an omnichannel world. It also meets clients’ needs for simple, tightly integrated propositions from their marketing services partners."
VMLY&R Commerce will open for business from 1 January although the full integration of all teams and assets will be a slower process, conducted throughout 2021.