New VMLY&R positions itself as a “brand experience” agency to take on the consultants

WPP is indeed merging Y&R with digital network VML to form VMLY&R (bet there was some debate about the name order) to form what it calls a “brand experience agency.”

VML’s Jon Cook will be global CEO with Y&R New York boss (and former global CEO) David Sable becoming non-executive chairman. Which presumably clears the way for Y&R global president David Patton (formerly head of Grey EMEA) to step up.

Read says: “VMLY&R will be a powerful brand experience offering and a core agency brand for WPP. VML and Y&R have distinct and complementary strengths spanning creative, technology and data services that make them a perfect match. 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.”

Cook (below) says: “I’m thrilled for the VMLY&R team as we start this journey together and harness the best of each agency to deliver culturally relevant world-class work. The landscape of our industry is changing rapidly, and we are committed to being an invaluable partner to CMOs around the world. I look forward to leading this unprecedented unification of two exceptional agencies.”

Sable says: “VMLY&R has been nearly 18 years in the making as we have worked to build two successful brands and develop partnerships together with clients such as Colgate-Palmolive, Dell and the U.S. Navy. I’m proud of this pinnacle moment as we are now able to provide clients one robust, seamless offering. I look forward to supporting Jon and our VMLY&R client partners as I take on my new role within WPP.”

As you do. Interesting that Sable says they’ve been working so closely together. When WPP bought Y&R for $4.7bn in 2000 it owned Wunderman, now the biggest digital agency in the WPP fold and spearheading its big pitches.

What Read now has to show is that he can make the merged agencies’ 2+2 equal 5, showing it can challenge the likes of Accenture Interactive which defines itself as a “global experience agency.” At the very least his 2+2 had better not equal 3.

We wait to see how this affects local management and staff, particularly the important London office in which there’s a new Y&R team headed by CEO Paul Lawson and CCO Jon Birley a floor or so below VML which is headed by Europe CEO Jon Sharpe, Lawson’s predecessor at Y&R London.

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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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