WPP merges Grey Paris into Ogilvy – is a much bigger deal on the cards?

WPP is merging Grey Paris into Ogilvy Paris – both still operating under separate brand names – in what may be the first of many such mergers among the big ad holding companies’ venerable creative networks. The merged agency will be integrated into Ogilvy’s office on rue Marbeuf.

Ogilvy Paris co-presidents Emmanuel Ferry and Matthieu Elkaim say: “We are very pleased to join forces with Grey’s network with which Ogilvy has always had a great deal in common. We look forward to welcoming Romain (Repellin) and Régis (Boulanger), the two Creative Directors, whom we know well. We share their entrepreneurial spirit acquired over the last few years at Grey; a value we are keen to inspire at Ogilvy.”

Boulanger and Repellin say: “We have always remained close to Ogilvy Paris and have closely followed the changes that have occurred over the past three years. The agency has been able to reinvent itself, modernize and adapt. We are very enthusiastic because this alliance will allow us to continue to grow our clients by bringing them all the existing expertise within Ogilvy Paris.”

So everyone’s pals but there will doubtless be job losses, which there would be anyway amid Covid-19 – which probably accelerated the decision.

Most holding company agencies have historically struggled in France where the market is dominated by home-grown Publicis Groupe and Havas, now part of Vivendi. Havas also owns BETC, Buzzman and Rosapark which gives it a pretty strong hand.

It’s surprising that Publicis, with its much-trumpeted ‘Power of One’ mantra hasn’t gone the same route.

Ogilvy, now with a new global leader in Andy Main from Deloitte Digital, and Grey had so far escaped WPP CEO Mark Read’s ‘simplification” mergers which include Wunderman Thompson and VMLY&R. There’s now bound to be speculation that more such deals – even a full merger of Ogilvy and Grey – are on the cards.

Did the prospect of a bigger empire help to attract andy Main from Deloitte? We’ll see.

Update

WPP has won the Cannes Lions holding Company of the Decade award.

Among the Lions awarded between 2010 and 2019, WPP agencies won a total of 51 Grand Prix and Titanium Lions for a huge variety of work including: 2011’s Dove Real Beauty Sketches by Ogilvy – one of the most-viewed advertisements of all time; 2016’s double Grand Prix-winning, data-driven The Next Rembrandt for ING by Wunderman Thompson; and last year’s Glass Lion for Change and Titanium winner The Last Ever Issue for Mastercard and BNP Paribas by VMLY&R and Wavemaker, which sought to transform the narrative for women.

CEO Read says: “Cannes Lions is our industry’s most important celebration of creativity, and this award makes me prouder than ever of our people and the extraordinary work we’ve done for our clients.

“Creativity is more than just a great idea; it’s about changing perceptions, questioning the status quo and transforming businesses. I would like to thank our fantastic clients who recognise the power of that creativity and who put their trust in WPP and our agencies to deliver it every day, all around the world.”

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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.

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