WPP unites Wunderman Thompson and VMLY&R to create scale-driven marketing force

By Zion Rufus

In a landmark move, WPP has embarked on a transformative journey in response to the evolving landscape of marketing, leveraging the combined strength of Wunderman Thompson and VMLY&R to birth a behemoth in the industry, aptly named VML.

The company is set to commence operations on January 1, 2024, marking a new era in the world of creative marketing.

This merger not only marks a significant milestone in the advertising world but also signifies the relevance of scale in today’s marketing ecosystem, where AI and technology redefine the rules of engagement, and global clients seek streamlined solutions to enhance their relationships.

The inception of VML will solidify its status as the world’s largest creative company, uniquely combining brand experience, customer experience, and commerce under one umbrella.

This strategic fusion unites two globally acclaimed creative agencies, each renowned for its excellence in commerce, customer experience, and marketing technology.

VML now stands as a formidable force to empower clients with creative brand growth strategies and transformative initiatives, all bolstered by cutting-edge data operations, advanced technology platforms, and partnerships with key technology leaders. Furthermore, this new ad giant extends a distinct offering tailored to healthcare companies and B2B marketers.

The harmony between the two agencies extends beyond their complementary client bases, functional expertise, and geographic reach. The merger brings forth a robust organization harnessing the talents of over 30,000 professionals operating in 64 markets.

Jon Cook takes the helm as VML Global CEO, and Mel Edwards assumes the role of VML Global President, a dynamic management duo gathering prominent leaders from both legacy companies.

“The future of building strong brands and businesses requires the interconnectivity of brand experience, commerce, and customer experiences,” notes Jon Cook, Global CEO. “We recognized the immediate opportunity to create what every consultancy and advertising agency aspires to build with the formation of VML. We’re especially excited to present our new offering to the industry as we don’t believe there is another company as creatively awarded with our depth in customer experience and commerce.”

Mel Edwards, Global President, echoes this sentiment, emphasizing that this merger’s timing and scale offer the ideal combination of capabilities to shape the future of modern marketing worldwide. She envisions the transformative impact on employees and clients, viewing this as a game-changing development for both businesses and the industry as a whole.

Launched in 2018, Wunderman Thompson and VMLY&R have consistently experienced growth through client expansion, new ventures, and strategic acquisitions. These agencies boast global acclaim for their creative prowess, with Wunderman Thompson honored as Campaign’s Integrated Network of the Year and recognized as an Ad Age Standout Agency, while VMLY&R secured the 7th position globally at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity and ranked 2nd on the Ad Age A-List.

Their expansive expertise has also garnered recognition from technology partners, including Adobe, BigCommerce, Contentful, Microsoft, Salesforce, and Sitecore, as well as industry analysts. Wunderman Thompson and VMLY&R have achieved “Leader” status in Commerce Services, Global Digital Experience Services, Global Marketing Service Providers, and the most recent Marketing Measurement and Optimization Forrester Wave™ Reports, further cementing WPP’s position in these fields.

Mark Read, CEO of WPP, emphasized the significance of scale in the current marketing landscape, where AI and technology redefine the rules and clients seek simplicity. VML is poised to combine unparalleled creativity with profound expertise in data, marketing technology, and platforms, delivering a competitive edge for ambitious brands. This strategic move reflects WPP’s continued commitment to reshaping its future offerings, streamlining its operations, and unlocking the advantages of scale.

The synergy between Wunderman Thompson and VMLY&R is a testament to their individual prowess. Together, they aim to provide an even more comprehensive, fully integrated range of capabilities to clients across the globe, meeting the demands of modern marketers who expect seamless integration between brand advertising and technology solutions. In VML, they have found a swift solution to address this critical business imperative.

Immediate leadership appointments include Debbi Vandeven as Global Chief Creative Officer, Eric Campbell as Global Chief Client Officer, Juan Pablo Jurado as CEO of LATAM, Ewen Sturgeon as CEO of EMEA, and Audrey Kuah and Yi-Chung Tay as Co-CEOs of APAC.

Wunderman Thompson and VMLY&R have already demonstrated their synergy, collaborating globally on multiple clients, including major names like Colgate-Palmolive, Dell, Ford, Microsoft, Nestlé, The Coca-Cola Company, and many more.



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