Scholz & Friends is a leading marketing services network headquartered in Germany. Parent company Commarco was acquired in 2011 by WPP, but until recently Scholz had always retained a standalone identity, operating for the most part separately from WPP's other networks. There are three Scholz offices in Germany, in Hamburg, Duesseldorf and Berlin, but what was once an extensive international footprint - outposts in markets such as Bulgaria, Macedonia, Slovakia and Serbia, among others - has been mostly abdorbed into other WPP businesses. In 2020, Scholz was realigned to take over local representation for WPP's larger global VMLY&R. Y&R's own offices in Germany, Switzerland and several other European countries were quietly shuttered following its merger with VML. Scholz continues to operate outposts in Switzerland and Belgium. The main agency is partnered by a large collection of satellites offering multiple services including experiential, content development, b2b communications, retail marketing, employer branding and reputation management, among other disciplines. In 2021 a new unit was launched - Scholz & Friends Lukas Lindemann - to handle the Volkswagen account. Parent entity Commarco - now rebranded as Scholz & Friends Family - serves as the umbrella for several other agencies under WPP's overall ownership. They include integrated agency Deep Blue, CRM specialist GKK Dialog, strategic consultancy Blumberry and PR company Nicole Weber Communications. Scholz & Friends is a substantial enterprise comprising some 25 agencies altogether and 1,200 staff. Frank-Michael Schmidt is group CEO. WPP is the latest in a string of different owners. Scholz was originally founded in Hamburg in 1981 by Juergen Scholz, previously the much-admired creative chief of BBDO Germany, and often described as one of the godfathers of the German ad industry. It was subsequently acquired by Bates Worldwide and groomed to become a second advertising network within the Cordiant portfolio. In 2001, it merged with UVE, a publicly quoted production company specialising in live entertainment programming for television and the internet. The resulting business, then still controlled by Cordiant, was Germany's first publicly quoted advertising and marketing communications group. However, financial problems within Cordiant led Scholz to regain its independence in 2003 through a buyout by private equity fund Cognetas (later rebranded as Motion Equity Partners). It remained independent until the WPP takeover eight years later.
Capsule checked 27th November 2019
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Historical profile information for Scholz & Friends
Adbrands Daily Update 28th Sep 2020: In a major break with long-established tradition, the German outpost of McDonald's has, for the first time anywhere, awarded sole custody of its creative account to a unit of WPP. For decades, the fast-feeder's business has been managed around the globe by either Leo Burnett or one of the big three Omnicom networks of DDB, TBWA and BBDO. The first crack in that tradition came in 2014 when McDonald's Germany selected Leo's Thjnk Tank, a joint venture between Leo Burnett and WPP-owned Thjnk. Then, last year, independent agency Wieden & Kennedy triumphed over DDB's dedicated We Are Unlimited agency for the US market. Now, at the beginning of November, the McDonald's Germany account will transfer from Leo's Thjnk Tank to WPP's Scholz & Friends.
Adbrands Daily Update 19th Feb 2020: WPP is re-establishing a local presence in Germany (and also Switzerland) for the VMLY&R network by aligning its previously standalone agency Scholz & Friends with the larger network. Scholz has operated as a semi-autonomous business since it was acquired by WPP in 2011. However, its CEO Frank-Michael Schmidt has reportedly been talking to central management at WPP for almost a year about realigning the business with one of the group's wider international networks to broaden its reach. Under the new arrangement, Scholz is expected to maintain its current branding, at least in the short term, but Schmidt will now report to VMLY&R's Jon Cook rather than to WPP CEO Mark Read. Affiliated agencies under Scholz's Commarco umbrella will also switch to VMLY&R. That network's own office in Germany was quietly shuttered last year after a long decline. At around the same time, the former Advico Y&R agency in Switzerland was rebranded as Wunderman Thompson.
Adbrands Daily Update 11th Nov 2019: "Huettenzauber". From the people who brought you "schadenfreude"... Only the German language would have a single word that specifically describes the magical experience of a winter feast in an Alpine chalet. Yes, seriously, in German that's just one word: Huettenzauber. Scholz & Friends' splendid holiday season spot for Aldi Switzerland shows everything that can possibly go wrong when a city boy tries to catch his own Christmas dinner in the wild. How much easier its is to get it from Aldi.
Adbrands Daily Update 20th June 2019: Scholz & Friends was Germany's first Grand Prix winner at this year's Cannes Lions festivals, in the PR category. It's hard to believe, but in Germany feminine hygiene products such as tampons are considered to be luxury products, with sales tax at 19%, rather than the 7% rate imposed on "daily necessities", a category which absurdly includes oil paintings, flowers and even caviar and truffles. So for client The Female Company, Scholz packaged 15 organic tampons inside a book, to take advantage of the lower rate, and launched a major PR campaign to highlight the absurdity of the tax structure. The first edition of The Tampon Book sold out in a day.
Adbrands Weekly Update 8th Oct 2015: WPP agreed to sell back 25% of the equity in European creative network Scholz & Friends to the management team, reducing its own stake to 75%. The move is designed to further incentivise local managers and dissuade them from leaving. Around 20 partners will share the equity between them. Scholz parent entity Commarco also recently widened its footprint with the acquisition of local PR agency Nicole Weber Communications.
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