WPP Is Merging 5 Consultancies and Design Agencies to Form a New Global Brand Offering

The unnamed agency will launch in January

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WPP announced this week that it will combine five of its brand consultancies and design agencies to form a new global brand agency.

The new group, which has yet to be named, will combine Brand Union, The Partners, Lambie-Nairn, Addison Group and VBAT. The launch is set for January 2018, with the latter shop continuing to operate under its own name.

The network will include around 750 employees across 20 countries, with client billings estimated at over $100 million worldwide. Jim Prior will lead the network as the global CEO and Simon Bolton will serve as executive chairman. Prior currently serves as The Partners CEO, while Bolton serves as Brand Union’s worldwide CEO.

“Our clients and our industry are ready for change and by bringing these agencies together, we can serve clients across the full range of sectors, capabilities and geographies,” Prior said in a statement. “This convergence builds the next generation brand agency and is motivated by the opportunities for growth—for our clients and for us.”

“Bringing our agencies together will instantly give our clients the benefit of scale and single point of access to a breadth of services that covers almost every aspect of brand and communications,” Bolton added.

WPP’s decision to merge the entities seems to be keeping with reorganization trends at the holding company as it attempts to rebound from a disappointing first half of 2017. Despite some major account wins, WPP failed to meet first half revenue goals in August and saw its stock plummet as a result. That stemmed largely from U.S. clients reducing ad spending totals, but it placed additional pressure on CEO Martin Sorrell to reduce overall operating expenses to increase the network’s efficiency, but some observers called for a more radical reorganization at the holding company.

“The pressures that we’re seeing accelerate the need to simplify what we’ve got,” Sorrell said at the time.

“The brand consulting business has always struggled to achieve the critical mass that ad agencies and media agencies have achieved. WPP’s hands were tied on this to some extent as they continue to push for efficiencies and scale,” Greg Paull, founding principal of international consultancy R3, said.

The pending formation of the new global brand agency also follows on the heels of WPP announcing the merger of MEC and Maxus to form a new global media network earlier this year as part of its ongoing reorganization.

Like the newest offering, that one went without a name for several weeks before the holding group introduced the world to Wavemaker last month.

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