WPP Retains Global Advertising Duties for Walgreens Boots Alliance

Holding company beat out Publicis in a review that started earlier this year

Walgreen Boots Alliance and WPP logos with a red background
WPP beat out Publicis Groupe and retained Walgreens Boots Alliance. WPP/Walgreens Boots Alliance
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Walgreens Boots Alliance, a global retail and pharmacy company that brought in $139 billion in 2019 revenue, has renewed its relationship with WPP following a review that started in May. Publicis Groupe was a finalist in the review, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The company, which had reported net advertising expenses of $585 million in its fiscal 2019, initially selected WPP as its global advertising partner in 2017. According to WPP, it will serve as Walgreens Boots Alliance’s global marketing and communications agency until the end of 2022, with the option to extend the partnership to 2024.

WPP said it will work with Walgreens Boots Alliance to “implement its integrated mass-personalization marketing strategy and reputation-management communications strategy in support of the company’s strategic priorities.”

A source with knowledge of the review said the company’s decision to stay with WPP came down to pricing and a desire to remain with its current partner during the pandemic.

“We are very proud to have been entrusted with such an important partnership for Walgreens Boots Alliance and its iconic brands,” Mark Read, CEO of WPP, said in a statement. “WBA is at the forefront of the industry in utilizing data to provide enriched, personalized customer experiences. We look forward to working very closely with WBA on the company’s ongoing transformation.”

WPP said a data and technology solution that pairs Walgreens Boots Alliance’s first-party data set with the holding company’s mar-tech capabilities is at the “heart” of the new partnership model. Walgreens Boots Alliance has roughly 21,000 stores in more than 25 countries.

“WBA is transforming our business across every consumer touch point—pharmacy, retail and digital—to provide a modern, differentiated customer experience,” Stefano Pessina, executive vice chairman and CEO of Walgreens Boots Alliance, said in a statement. “We are delighted to continue our partnership with WPP to leverage their creative skills, technology and data insights, as we shape the future of our business together.”

Adweek’s Erik Oster contributed to this article.


@Minda_Smiley minda.smiley@adweek.com Minda Smiley is an agencies reporter at Adweek.
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