Wunderman Thompson is the fully integrated creative network formed in 2019 from the merger of WPP's storied J Walter Thompson advertising agency and direct & digital specialist Wunderman. The latter had over a period of years become one of the biggest as well as the fastest growing businesses within WPP, while JWT struggled with a series of challenges, not least a long-running legal dispute over allegations of misconduct by its former CEO. Following the shock resignation of WPP founder Sir Martin Sorrell in 2018, Wunderman's reputation was further enhanced by the elevation of its CEO Mark Read to the top job within the group. Consolidation of the sprawling collection of agencies now under his command was top of his to-do list. Wunderman had previously been considered as the likely partner for another agency facing challenges, Y&R, with whom it had long been associated. Instead, Read chose to merge Y&R with another of its satellites, VML, and combine Wunderman with JWT. As a sign of how far the business has travelled, conceptually if not literally, it now describes itself as "part agency, part consultancy and part technology company". Though headquartered still in New York (at JWT's old offices), leadership of the enlarged Wunderman Thompson network was entrusted to two British women. Longtime WPP stalwart and former JWT CEO Tamara Ingram became chairman - initially executive, but non-executive since 2020; while the role of global CEO went to Read's successor at Wunderman, Mel Edwards. Daniel Bonner and Bas Korsten were eventually appointed as global co-chief creative officers. The combined network has some 20,000 employees spread across 200 offices in 90 countries. Ad Age estimated global revenues at $2.6bn for 2019; that makes the business the third largest traditional marketing services network worldwide behind McCann. Each of the two constituent networks also brought with it a collection of satellite agencies, some of which have been consolidated. For example, most of digital network Possible is was absorbed either into Wunderman Thompson's North America offices or into former JWT satellite Mirum, which retains separate status. Most of the two agencies' other satellites have been absorbed into the main agency, with the exception of two Wunderman units, which are now Wunderman Thompson Health and Wunderman Thompson Commerce.
Capsule checked 11th December 2020
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Historical profile information for J Walter Thompson
Marketer Moves 17th Aug 2022: New CCO at Wunderman Thompson. See Marketer Moves (members only).
Marketer Moves 6th Dec 2021: New North America CEO at Wunderman Thompson. See Marketer Moves (members only).
Adbrands Daily Update 1st Dec 2021: WPP bolstered Wunderman Thompson's global ecommerce offering with the acquisition of British company Cloud Commerce Group. CCG offers a sophisticated ecommerce and order management platform that is used by thousands of manufacturers to integrate with all leading online retailers as well as shipping services. Customers include Ford, IBM, Mars and Mondelez among many others. It transacts through its platform purchase volumes in excess of £1bn per annum. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Marketer Moves 14th October 2021: New CEO to be appointed at Wunderman Thompson North America. See Marketer Moves (members only).
Marketer Moves 16th April 2021: New CEO at Wunderman Thompson NY. See Marketer Moves (members only).
Adbrands Daily Update 25th Feb 2020: Tamara Ingram, the former J Walter Thompson CEO who became executive chair of Wunderman Thompson upon its creation, is to move to a non-executive position later this year, leaving Mel Edwards in overall command of the business. She will transition out of the agency at a subsequent date which has yet to be confirmed.
Adbrands Daily Update 20th Nov 2019: Another week, another account loss for Wunderman Thompson. Following on from the loss of its biggest Johnson & Johnson US consumer healthcare clients a month ago, the agency also bids farewell to the rather larger contingent of similar brands in the Bayer portfolio, and on a global basis too. Brands including Berocca, Canesten, Redoxon, Rennie and Supradyn are all moving to Mullen Lowe, who now share responsibility for the full global portfolio with BBDO. Separately this week, Wunderman Thompson finally confirmed its global creative leadership team. Daniel Bonner and Bas Korsten are promoted to global co-chief creative officers. Bonner was previously CCO of Wunderman, and will continue to be based out of London; Korsten was CCO of JWT Netherlands, and will remain in Amsterdam.
Adbrands Daily Update 22nd Oct 2019: There has been a noticeable absence of big name account wins since Wunderman and JWT joined forces nine months ago, with Duracell virtually the only banner bolt-on. As a result, Wunderman Thompson can ill-afford high-profile defections. This week, long-time JWT client Johnson & Johnson announced the transfer of its US OTC "self care" business to Doner. That includes megabrands Tylenol, Listerine and Zyrtec. The Listerine account has been with JWT for almost 60 years, and combined billings for those three products alone is well over $200m annually in the US. That represents the biggest single account win for Doner for several years. WPP will, as a result, shutter Neighborhood, the dedicated agency it created to manage the business. In a defensive statement, though, the group pointed out that WT retains J&J's pharmaceuticals account "which is the lion's share of its US revenues from J&J".
Adbrands Daily Update 4th Apr 2019: Wunderman Thompson got a big moral boost from its first major global win as a merged entity. Following a review, Duracell moves its entire global creative account to the agency, in all markets except the US (where the business remains with Wieden & Kennedy). “Wunderman Thompson was outstanding in their pitch," said Duracell CMO Tatiana Vivienne Jouanneau. "They were joyful and we immediately felt the chemistry was right." The agency reportedly fought off a challenge from 10 other agencies. The only fly in the appointment, at least for parent WPP, is that the account transfers sideways from another group company, Grey.
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