WPP Acquires VML

Some agencies are acquired for their client list, some for their executives. WPP said it acquired Valentine-McCormick-Ligibel last week to gain access to the shop’s business model.

“They see some uniqueness in the way we approach the business,” said Scott McCormick, president of the Kansas City, Mo., shop.

The $135 million agency claims to offer truly integrated online and offline products ranging from advertising to business consulting and the creation software applications, McCormick said.

“We’re not pitching integrated services—it’s an integrated process,” he said.

By selling to WPP, VML gets access to a global network to help service its clients, which include Sprint, Colgate Palmolive, Coca-Cola and American Express.

“When you get to be our size, there’s a ceiling, and you look at a lot of [possible] growth strategies,” said VML CEO Matt Anthony. “This seems to be a good one.”

WPP executives approached VML 14 months ago with a proposal to align the shop with J. Walter Thompson. But agency officials did not feel that was an appropriate fit, Anthony said.

The agency, with offices in Dallas, Minneapolis, New York and White Salmon, Wash., will become part of WPP’s specialty communications group.

McCormick and Anthony signed six-year employment contracts with WPP and will retain their titles. John Valentine will continue as the shop’s chairman.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. WPP officials could not be reached for comment.