Grey to Serve as U.S. Creative Lead on $300 Million Walgreens Boots Alliance Business

By Erik Oster 

Earlier this week, WPP won global creative and media duties for Walgreens Boots Alliance, the pharmaceutical holding company formed in late 2014 after the retail chain’s acquisition of Swiss health and beauty group Alliance Boots.

To service the account out of offices in New York, London and Chicago, WPP will create a dedicated unit called Team WBA.

Sir Martin’s company subsequently chose Grey to serve as lead creative agency in the U.S. and partner with MediaCom (media), Burson-Marsteller (PR), and Townhouse (production) on the U.S. Walgreens account. According to an internal email sent by Grey chairman and CEO Jim Heekin yesterday, the group assignment entails both traditional and digital advertising, as well as media management, promotional marketing and media relations for both the client’s retail and wholesale business and health and well-being brands.

This is a fairly big piece of new business for all agencies involved. According to Kantar Media, Walgreens Boots Alliance spent approximately $600 million on marketing around the world in 2015, with around half of that total dedicated to the U.S.

Here’s the memo:

I’m sure you saw the news this week that the Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc., the largest retail pharmacy and health destination across the U.S. and Europe, has selected a team of WPP agencies to handle its multinational advertising account.  The trade press estimated their total marketing spending at $600 million annually.

I am delighted to tell you that Grey has been named the lead advertising agency in the United States.  We will work with our valued WPP partners: MediaCom, Burson-Marsteller, and Townhouse.

Grey will be a key member of Team WBA, the dedicated WPP organization, that together will provide traditional and digital advertising, media investment management, promotion and relationship marketing, public affairs, media relations and communications for our new client’s retail and wholesale businesses as well as its health and well-being brands.

Walgreens has been an iconic American brand for over a century.  Together with its Duane Reade unit, the company changed the shopping habits of our nation and became its most trusted pharmacy.  We are honored to add this premier company to our client roster in our Centennial year and help them continue to make marketing history.

I want to congratulate and thank everyone who contribute to this win after a year-long review.  It has been a remarkable team effort we should all be proud of, true to our “Famously Effective” mission.


Jim Heekin, Chairman & CEO

[Pic via Walgreens Boots Alliance]