VML is a highly regarded digital marketing agency, traditionally part of the Young & Rubicam group within WPP, operating alongside Wunderman. Still headquartered in its original home of Kansas City, Missouri, it has established a global footprint since its alignment with Y&R. At least six new outposts were established in 2013 alone, including offices in Japan, in Poland (through a partnership with local group Heureka), in China (through the acquisition of local agency IM2.0, now VML ) and in South Africa, through local agency Native, now Native VML. By mid 2016 there were 28 offices in 15 countries. In September 2018, WPP announced the merger of VML with larger sister Y&R to form VMLY&R, led by the digital agency's management team.
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Adbrands Weekly Update 27th Sep 2018: Only a few days after the story first broke in the Wall Street Journal, WPP confirmed the merger of the group's global Y&R advertising network into its faster-growing digital satellite VML. Y&R's David Sable moves up to global non-executive chairman, and VML's Jon Cook becomes CEO of the merged global business, to be known as VMLY&R. Y&R global president David Patton is out, though he is said to be discussing an alternative role within WPP. VML's local managers look set to take charge in each of the two agencies shared markets around the world. In London, VML's Amanda Farmer becomes managing director of the combined company, and Harsh Kapadia is executive creative director, reporting to VMLY&R EMEA CEO Jon Sharpe. Y&R London's current management team look set to depart, although veteran chairman Mark Roalfe is expected to stay on. "VML and Y&R have distinct and complementary strengths spanning creative, technology and data services that make them a perfect match," said WPP CEO Mark Read. "This is an important step as we build a new, simpler WPP that provides clients with a fully integrated offering and easy access to our wealth of talent and resources."
Adbrands Weekly Update 22nd Feb 2018: The Y&R brand is being consigned to history in South Africa after several years of weak performance. The last remaining outpost in Johannesburg is being merged into the local outpost of digital sister agency VML, which will now offer a full range of marketing services. Two other Y&R offices in Cape Town and Durban were closed last year. VML South Africa was created from the acquisition of local digital agency Native in 2012. This marks Y&R's latest withdrawal from a mid-size advertising market. The agency's offices in Canada were merged into standalone WPP-owned agency Taxi in 2015.
Adbrands Weekly Update 8th Feb 2018: Ads of the Week: "Fearlessly Independent Since 1906". Sportswear brand New Balance doesn't have the money to pay big endorsement fees so it has to try something a bit different to grab some limelight from Nike and Adidas. This new campaign, the first from new global agency VML, has a lovely down-home-and-dirty garageland feel to it. All goes to show that character sometimes beats style (and cash). We'll be honest: we haven't heard of any of the mostly American athletes featured apart from German soccer star-turned-manager Jurgen Klopp. We're hoping they're all a bit cooler over there than he is here in Europe.
Adbrands Weekly Update 12th Oct 2017: Y&R London chief executive Jon Sharpe is moving across to sister agency VML to head up a newly created VML Europe division. His place will be taken at Y&R by Paul Lawson, chief executive of Leo Burnett London since 2011.
Adbrands Weekly Update 20th Oct 2016: VML was named as lead creative agency worldwide for New Balance sports shoes and apparel, straddling traditional as well as creative, and taking over from Arnold Worldwide. VML will also take the lead in a new WPP unit to manage integrated comms for Electrolux domestic appliances in North America, partnering other group-owned shops including Geometry, Mediacom and Cohn & Wolfe.
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