Y&R has long been one of the industry's most admired advertising brands. The wider Young & Rubicam group is the umbrella for a collection of marketing services providers led traditionally by the main advertising agency, but it has become increasingly dominated by digital & direct marketer Wunderman. The group has been a wholly owned subsidiary of WPP since 2000, but continues to operate as a largely self-contained entity. Despite strong performance by some of its individual agencies, Y&R's notional independence was compromised in the mid 2000s by patchy overall performance. An overhaul of management was unable to prevent the loss of a number of major accounts between 2002 and 2005. Performance stabilised following the appointment of global CEO Peter Stringham in 2007 (until 2016), but the main Y&R Advertising business continued to lose precedence within the group to faster-growing stablemate Wunderman. In 2018, as part of a wider review of WPP's extensive agency portfolio, the main agency was merged into its smaller but faster-growing digital satellite VML, under the latter's management team. The combined business adopted the new name VMLY&R.
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Recent stories from Adbrands Weekly Update:
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.
Adbrands Weekly Update 18th Oct 2018: There are few things clients like less in their agency partners than change or uncertainty. Big changes - like the merger of WPP's MEC and Maxus media agencies to form Wavemaker last year - often encourage clients to reconsider their business. A flood of accounts departed Wavemaker following that merger, and WPP will be starting to worry about a similar effect at newly combined VMLY&R. Within days of that announcement, PepsiCo said it would transfer digital and social media duties for Gatorade and Tropicana - two of the larger accounts at VML's Kansas City HQ for the past eight years - out of the agency. It's not the best of starts for VMLY&R.
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 9th Aug 2018: WPP made further changes to its portfolio of international joint ventures. It agreed to terminate an increasingly acrimonious joint venture in India by selling its minority stake in the local office of Y&R - known as Rediffusion Y&R - back to Rediffusion's co-founders and majority owners Arun Nanda and Ajit Balakrishnan. Dentsu, a minority partner in the agency as a legacy of the old DY&R joint venture across Asia, has also sold its shares. As a result, the agency will revert to its original name of Rediffusion, leaving the Y&R network - for the time being at least - with no direct presence in India. Rediffusion will also take control of the existing Indian outposts of Wunderman and Sudler & Hennessey, which become Rediffusion Direct and Rediffusion Health respectively. WPP will relaunch the Y&R, Wunderman and Sudler brands in India, and also agreed to take full control of another Rediffusion joint venture, mobile marketing agency Madhouse.
Adbrands Weekly Update 3rd May 2018: WPP took the final steps to end a long-established partnership between Y&R and Dentsu in Asia. It bought out the Japanese group's shares in several Y&R and Wunderman units in South East Asia, as well as in healthcare agency Dentsu Sudler & Hennessey in Japan. In return, WPP surrendered its own shares in Dentsu Y&R and Wunderman Dentsu in Tokyo. Now wholly owned by Dentsu, they are rebranding as Dentsu e3 and Dentsu Direct Solutions respectively.
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