Wunderman Thompson is the newly created 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. Though headquartered still in New York (at JWT's old offices), the enlarged Wunderman Thompson network is led by two British women: longtime WPP stalwart and former JWT CEO Tamara Ingram, who becomes chairman; and Read's successor at Wunderman, Mel Edwards, who was named as global CEO. Daniel Bonner and Bas Korsten were eventually appointed as global co-chief creative officers. The network started with 20,000 employees spread across 200 offices in 90 countries. Combined global proforma revenues are around $3bn; that makes the business the third largest traditional marketing services network worldwide behind McCann. Further consolidation of the combined agency's widely spread global network is underway in 2019, and is likely to continue well into 2020. Each of the two constituent networks also brought with it a collection of satellite agencies, some of which are being consolidated. For example, most of digital network Possible is being absorbed either into Wunderman Thompson's North America offices or into former JWT satellite Mirum. Employer marketing agency JWT Inside became Wunderman Thompson Employ.
Capsule checked 4th February 2019
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Historical profile information for J Walter Thompson
Recent stories from Adbrands Update:
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.
Adbrands Daily Update 13th Mar 2019: The Possible brand may heading inexorably for the dustbin of history, following further moves by WPP to consolidate agency assets. Possible's Seattle HQ is merging with Wunderman and the local creative agency Cole & Weber to create Wunderman Thompson Seattle. The Possible name will be retained for the time being for certain key clients, but it is as yet unclear whether staffing levels will be cut. Possible's New York-based managing director Joe Crump was at the same time named to the same role at Wunderman Thompson New York.
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