Walgreen Boots Alliance reviews global business at WPP

Walgreens Boots Alliance is looking for a new global agency to “accelerate its digital transformation,” prompted in part by changes imposed on its retail and whoesale pharma business by the Covid-19 pandemic. It spends an estimated $280m a year.

Which won’t be good news for WPP CEO Mark Read, defending the business although WBA says the review is statutory – so unavoidable.

“Told you so,” former WPP boss Sir Martin Sorrell might add. He’s been vociferously making the point that the virus will accelerate such moves by big advertisers. Doubtless his new S4Capital will try to muscle in on the action. Sorrell began the process that took WBA into WPP some years ago at Davos.

In the UK Boots is a big advertiser at WPP’s Ogilvy (above) although it had to be be dragged kicking and screaming out of creative agency Mother. Read’s new Wunderman Thompson has performed pretty well in the transformation stakes since he merged the two agencies although the competition for WBA will be intense.

Publicis and Accenture will doubtless feel that their shiny new acquisitions of Epsilon (data) and Droga5 (creative) respectively give them a chance too.

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About Stephen Foster

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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.