WPP is merging design companies Design Bridge and Superunion to create what it calls a “single world-leading design company,” Design Bridge and Partners. Superunion itself is the result a 2018 merger between WPP design shops Brand Union, The Partners, Lambie-Nairn and Addison.
WPP recently merged giant media shop MediaCom with Essence to form EssenceMediacom, with Essence seemingly in the driving seat. It has also created merged VMLY&R and Wunderman Thompson and folded Grey into AKQA Group.
John Morris, CEO of Design Bridge and Partners, says; “It’s absolutely fantastic to be able to bring together two creative powerhouses in design. Marrying the ‘best of both’, Design Bridge and Partners will be truly formidable, offering greater benefit for our clients through shared expertise and, importantly, many more opportunities for our people to grow.” Superunion’s Jim Prior is chair (both below.)
WPP CEO Mark Read says: “Design Bridge and Partners will be a leader in design and an important part of our simpler, future-facing client offer. Formed from two successful companies in Design Bridge and Superunion, it will create new growth opportunities both for our people and our clients.”
Design shops played a pivotal role in WPP’s formation in 1985 and subsequent growth with founder Sir Martin Sorrell snapping up a number of them as he sought to build a marcoms group. It entered advertising with the purchase of Madison Avenue’s J. Walter Thompson in a $400m plus deal in 1987.
It’s ironic that these branding experts have all now been lumped together but that seems to be the way all the ad holding companies are moving. How long will it be before we have WPP Creative, WPP Media and a small number of other leviathans?