WPP in driving seat as Shell creates “agency of the future”

Shell has finally announced the results of its agency review resulting in the creation of an “agency of the future” no less.

On the face of it it looks pretty good for longstanding partner WPP with group companies VCCP, VCCP Retail (part-owned by WPP) Wunderman, digital agencies Mirum (part of JWT) and Geometry and H+K Strategies (PR) with roles to play alongside JWT which remains in charge of “master brand communications.” Omnicom’s Doremus and independent Edelman also win roles. Iris Worldwide, which handled some work for Shell, seems to have lost out.

WPP’s Mediacom, on a big winning streak, retains global media planning and buying on the £200m account.

Shell global head of downstream marketing communications Carolyn McKeever says: “Three key things: sharing our business ambitions, not micro communications objectives, resulted in a step changed response at RFP, digital is the new normal and finally the review demonstrated that we can no longer spend our way into our customer’s hearts and minds, we must earn our place.

“As well as realigning towards earned and digital first, we were determined to strengthen our specialist agency muscles in B2B, shopper and trade which Doremus, VCCP Retail and Geometry more than cover off.”

WPP COO Mark Read says: “Shell were looking for strategic, collaborative partners with a digital-first mindset to form a collective ‘Creative Agency of the Future,’ underpinned by best-in-class media and data capabilities.

“We are delighted with the outcome of both the creative and media reviews, which demonstrates the strength of our companies, our flexibility and adaptability as a group, and our enduring ability to win the trust of the biggest global clients.”

Jason Warnes of Wunderman led the winning pitch and will be in charge of this brave new world.

We don’t know the financial ins and out of all this: will WPP operate one P&L for Shell? It would make sense.

In PR terms it’s a vital win for both WPP and JWT and, of course, WPP CEO in waiting Read. The last thing WPP needs is a big famous account departing. The next cloud on Read’s horizon is the Ford creative review out of WPP’s GTB agency. If WPP can hang on to a substantial part of that then its current “business as usual” story will look a lot stronger.

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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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