WPP merges BCW and Hill & Knowlton, creates comms giant

By Ibidunni Banjoko
WPP, the global advertising and marketing giant, has announced the merger of its two major PR firms, BCW (Burson Cohn & Wolfe) and Hill & Knowlton, to form a new entity called Burson. The merger, set to take effect on July 1, will create a PR firm with an estimated value exceeding $1.1 billion, potentially making it the largest player in the industry.BCW’s global CEO, Corey duBrowa, will assume the role of Burson’s global CEO, while AnnaMaria DeSalva, Hill & Knowlton’s global chairman and CEO, will serve as global chairman. The new leadership will oversee strategy, client service, employee experience, and more.

The move is part of WPP CEO Mark Read’s strategy to simplify the organization, following the previous mergers of several entities within the group. The new Burson entity is expected to have considerable scale in sectors such as healthcare and technology, employing over 6,000 people across 43 markets worldwide.

While the integration aims to build a stronger organization, WPP has not ruled out job losses. The merger reflects the company’s effort to streamline its operations and create a more cohesive and competitive PR offering in the market.

The combined billings of the new Burson entity are anticipated to exceed Edelman, the industry’s largest PR firm for over a decade. The merger is a strategic move to leverage the strengths and synergies of BCW and Hill & Knowlton, creating a premier partner for business leaders focused on growth, risk management, and reputational capital.

The announcement comes amid WPP’s broader efforts to adapt to industry changes and enhance its position in a competitive market.


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