Advertising group WPP to merge two major creative agencies

(Reuters) -WPP, the world’s biggest advertising group, said on Tuesday it will combine two of its major creative agencies Wunderman Thompson and VMLY&R to simplify its business.

The combined entity, which will be known as VML, will employ more than 30,000 people in 64 markets.

The agencies, launched in 2018, have catered to clients including Colgate-Palmolive, Dell, Ford, Microsoft and Coca-Cola.

London-based WPP, which also owns agencies such as Ogilvy and media investment firm GroupM, has restructured many of its agencies to improve efficiencies and provide a more complete offering for customers.

Such a move also comes as advertisers experiment with using generative AI software like ChatGPT and DALL-E to cut costs and increase productivity.

VML will be led by VMLY&R head Jon Cook as global chief executive and Wunderman Thompson head Mel Edwards as global president, WPP said.

“It’s another important step forward for WPP as we continue to reshape our offer for the future, simplify our business and unlock further benefits of scale,” WPP CEO Mark Read said in a statement.

WPP, which is set to report quarterly earnings next week, downgraded its full-year growth forecast in August, saying a decline in marketing by major U.S. tech companies had taken the company by surprise and left the outlook unclear.

(Reporting by Eva Mathews in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Sarah Young in London; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri, Shinjini Ganguli and Sharon Singleton)