JWT Absorbs RMG

NEW YORK WPP Group’s JWT is folding its RMG global direct marketing operations into the agency in an effort to put digital at the center of its more traditional operations. The move, approved at a recent JWT board meeting, will result in the two entities sharing the same P&L and in the disappearance of the RMG brand.
When David Eastman, JWT’s worldwide director of digital, joined the network earlier this year, global CEO Bob Jeffrey gave him the mandate to integrate JWT’s digital assets throughout the network.
“When I came in February, I needed to assess RMG’s network offices, which were uneven. Some markets were more traditional CRM, some digital, some data analytics,” says Eastman, who came to JWT from his role as CEO of Omnicom Group’s Republic Family, formerly known as Zulu. “This is an effort to put interactivity in the center of JWT’s business and make it a much more unified organization.

“From a client and consumer point of view, in the 21st century it is a much more integrated situation [in agencies] than it was three, five, seven years ago,” he continued. “It’s very hard to separate media. We need one organization and a business with a single P&L.”
Eastman, a former worldwide CEO at Agency.com, expects to further grow JWT’s digital operations through acquisition as well as organically. The network’s regional offices will report to a combined global management. He said the agency would go to market as the combined entity as of Jan. 1, 2010. Leadership at JWT network offices will now be expected to have a “strong nontraditional media background or a bias toward digital,” he said. “We’re threading digital through every one of our organizations.”

Last August, JWT assumed 100 percent ownership of RMG, which had previously been split between JWT and sibling WPP units Ogilvy & Mather, with a 39 percent stake, and Wunderman, with a 10 percent holding. Since then, RMG has seen the departure of senior execs including Tim Hipperson, CEO, London; Philip Greenfield, global CEO; and Mark Miller, North American CEO.