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 Weekly Update:
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.
Adbrands Daily Update 24th Jan 2019: WPP took a step towards dismantling its dedicated Ford agency Global Team Blue, which lost its position as lead agency on that automaker's account last year. It retains below-the-line duties for Ford worldwide, but creative has transferred to BBDO and Wieden & Kennedy. This week, VMLY&R opened its first office in Detroit, absorbing a large number of staff from GTB's head office including managing partner Aleksandr Niestroj and chief experience officer Tim Reisen, who was named as CEO of VMLY&R Detroit.
Adbrands Social Media 12th Dec 2018: "More Than Italian". For the domestic market, coffee roaster Lavazza is best-known for its long-running "Paradiso" ad campaign, a series of comedy skits conceived by main agency Armando Testa and set in a fanciful version of heaven. These used to feature megastars (Julia Roberts was paid $1.5bn for one spot back in 2010) but for the past couple of years have starred local comedian Mauricio Crozza in a variety of wigs and funny voices. They're very Italian, and don't translate at all well internationally. So Y&R Milan has the task of delivering more cosmopolitan concepts for other markets. And what more international language can there be than football? To celebrate the company's new status as official coffee roaster to both Arsenal and Liverpool football clubs, noted Egyptian director Ali Ali (famous for those widely acclaimed Panda Cheese ads a few years ago) goes in search of the "real Italian coffee" with a mixed bag of comic stereotypes, and a few Premier League cameos thrown in for good measure.
Adbrands Weekly Update 15th Nov 2018: WPP confirmed the creative leadership team for the newly merged VMLY&R network. Y&R's global chief creative officer Tony Granger is to retire and North America CCO Leslie Sims is expected to transfer to another as-yet-unconfirmed WPP agency. VML's Debbi VanDeven is global CCO for the combined agency, and the North America position will be split between John Godsey and Jason Xenopoulos, from VML USA and VML South Africa respectively. In Europe, Jaime Mandelbaum, already Y&R's regional CCO, will retain that position in the combined business.
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