WPP leadership has decided to merge J. Walter Thompson, the world’s oldest ad agency, with digital network Wunderman, a spokesperson for the former company confirmed today. The news was announced to employees at the start of the business day in New York.
The resulting organization will be known as Wunderman Thompson and be headquartered in JWT’s offices on Manhattan’s Lexington Avenue. It will employ approximately 20,000 people in 200 locations across 90 global markets. WPP is expected to debut a new visual identity for the company in the coming days.
Mel Edwards was promoted to global CEO of Wunderman in September after her predecessor, Mark Read, succeeded Martin Sorrell as WPP’s chief executive. She’ll keep that title, with JWT worldwide CEO Tamara Ingram serving as chairman.
“To acheve transformative outcomes, clients today need inspiration that is rooted in data-driven insight. I am really excited to be able to deliver that within one agency,” said Edwards. “Wunderman Thompson offers precisely what clients want: brilliant creativity, expertise in data and sophisticated technology skills. I couldn’t be more honored to lead this new organization and its exceptional people.”
JWT calls itself “the world’s best-known marketing communications brand,” and in the last 150-plus years it has created such iconic campaigns as De Beers’ “A Diamond Is Forever,” the Oscar Meyer Weiner Song and the Toys “R” Us Kid anthem, in addition to some of the earliest ads for Henry Ford’s Model T automobiles.
Wunderman, which began 60 years ago as the first direct marketing agency, has since expanded into the fields of brand strategy, consulting, ecommerce and, perhaps most importantly, data analytics.
“Coming together was a decision driven by the opportunity to better serve our clients, expand our offering and create an agency effectively positioned for the future,” Ingram added. “Both JWT and Wunderman have been built by the commitment of many talented people whose combined capabilities will further distinguish us in the market.”
JWT did not elaborate beyond these statements. A WPP spokesperson declined to comment.