Go-go Wunderman set to gobble up Possible Worldwide

The Wall Street journal reckons WPP digital network Possible Worldwide is to be merged into Wunderman and so do we, as WPP hasn’t denied it.

Wunderman, now led by WPP Digital boss Mark Read (below), has emerged as arguably the most important network among WPP’s agencies. Once a direct marketing specialist it’s now WPP’s biggest digital agency and the only agency-owned one on the same scale as the likes of Accenture and Deloitte (much of whose work is not advertising).

Possible was an attempt to combine a hotch potch of digital agencies picked up by WPP over the years into a standalone global player but has had only middling success. With $250m in revenue It’s about a fifth the size of Wunderman with whom it shares Microsoft business.

So far this year WPP has already merged media agencies Maxus into MEC and Neo@Ogilvy into Mindshare as it tries to make its offer simpler and also cope with client cutbacks as they scrutinise media agency margins. Most big media agencies have enjoyed double digit margins although few clients pay the fee equivalent of this in relation to billings.

Wunderman under Read (a one-time WPP board member) has enjoyed a storming run recently, making him the early favourite to eventually succeed WPP boss Sir Martin Sorrell.

Sooner or later one of the big holding companies will merge two of their big creative agency networks (where they started although not where they’ve ended up) and then it will open season on some of the industry’s most venerable brands.

Update

Deal has been confirmed. WPP says:

Technology partnerships will be at the heart of the combined business with more than 2,600 technology experts across both companies with specialisms in working with Adobe, Amazon, Google, IBM, Marketo, Microsoft, Salesforce and Sitecore.

Mark Read, Wunderman’s Global CEO, said: “I’ve been closely involved with POSSIBLE since its inception and have long admired the creative and strategic excellence of its people. Clients today are looking for simplicity and expertise and this move is designed to provide both.”

Shane Atchison, Global CEO of POSSIBLE, shared: “Combining our deep and diverse capabilities is exactly the kind of forward-thinking move that will allow us to deliver business results for our clients.”

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.
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