VMLY&R was created in late 2018 from the combination of storied advertising network Y&R with its fast-growing and highly regarded digital stablemate within WPP, VML. Despite its fabled creative heritage - Ray Rubicam is one of the undisputed giants of early 20th century advertising - Y&R had struggled for several years with uneven performance, and was increasingly overshadowed by its affiliated CRM specialist Wunderman. Yet new WPP CEO Mark Read - himself a former head of Wunderman - chose instead to align Wunderman with another of the group's hard-pressed advertising networks JWT, and effectively merged Y&R into the edgier digital creative business VML, for the most part under the latter's management team. Integration of the two networks has for the most part gone smoothly, not least because VML brought to the table a much smaller global footprint than its more widely established partner. The majority of the central executive leadership roles have been assumed by former VML managers. The smaller network's Jon Cook and Eric Campbell were named as global CEO and president respectively of the merged business, while Debbi VanDeven was appointed as global chief creative officer. AdAge estimated global revenues of $910m for the enlarged business. A collection of satellite agencies which had previously operated as part of what was then the wider Young & Rubicam Brands group - including design agency Landor, healthcare shop Sudler & Hennessey and PR agency Burson-Marsteller - have also been realigned within WPP.
Capsule checked 11th June 2019
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Recent stories from Adbrands Update:
Adbrands Daily Update 3rd Mar 2020: VMLY&R scored a spectacular and much needed new business triumph with the capture of Intel's global creative account following a six month review. The account is thought to be worth as much as $1.4bn in global billings, making it the biggest single account win by any agency since Ford moved to BBDO and Wieden & Kennedy (and incidentally away from VMLY&R's parent group WPP) at the end of 2018. It's also VMLY&R's biggest by far since the creation of that agency, and the most significant win for a much longer period for either of its two predecessor networks. For the past few years, Intel's creative work has been mostly handled inhouse, but that internal agency was disbanded just over a year ago.
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 7th Jan 2020: "Find Nature in the City". VMLY&R's Argentinean outpost delivers a great spot for Villavicencio, Danone's leading local mineral water brand. This may be a concept we've seen before - that old "find your natural well-being in the heart of the city" chestnut - but the agency finds some exciting new ways to illustrate it. Visually it's a stunner. The interesting difference with this particular brand is that its source is located in a protected nature reserve in the foothills of the Andes.
Adbrands Daily Update 24th Jun 2019: There was a second Grand Prix for VMLY&R - it was the only WPP agency to take home two top prizes - in a bold and iconoclastic campaign to address gender inequality. To mark International Women's Day, VMLY&R Poland teamed up with internet portal Gazeta.pl, BNP Paribas and Mastecard to acquire the country's oldest and most conservative porn magazine, Twoj Weekend, and shut it down. But first it published one last issue, filled not with porn but a succession of articles to redress the gender balance, highlighting the achievements of female Polish writers, actresses, athletes and photographers. The project was awarded the Glass Lion for Change Grand Prix.
Adbrands Daily Update 20th Jun 2019: VMLY&R collected its first post-merger Cannes Lions Grand Prix with a brilliantly imaginative campaign that collected the top prize in the new Social & Influencer category. For long-standing VML client Wendy's the agency crashed mega-popular online game Fortnite with a red-pigtailed character bearing a strong similarity to the famous Wendy's logo. Rather than interact with other characters, though, Fortnite Wendy simply visited all the game's (many) burger restaurant locations and destroyed their meat freezers, all in keeping with Wendy's well-established promise of serving only fresh never frozen burgers. She quickly gained a massive following within the game and on streaming site Twitch, encouraging other players to join in the freezer-smashing rampage.
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