Wunderman’s Hulbert to head WPP’s revamped VML top line-up

Chief creative officer is, so far, a glaring omission

Former Wunderman Thompson boss Pip Hulbert (below) has emerged as UK CEO of WPP’s VML, which now includes Wunderman Thompson and VMLY&R. The new entity is headed for WPP’s Thameside HQ in January, which suggests it’s going to be rather smaller than the previous agencies combined.

Y&R had inhabited its Camden Town offices for decades, not always happily as back in the day Soho-ites were reluctant to venture that far from civilisation. WPP HQ at least has better views.

Hulbert says: “Wunderman Thompson and VMLY&R have hugely complementary skill sets matched with brilliant talent. Together we’ll be unstoppable.”

VML/Y&R’s co-CEOs Justin Pahl and Michelle Whelan move into senior client roles. Which leaves at least one glaring gap: CCO as both Wunderman’s CCO Steve Aldridge and VMLY&R’s Laurent Simon are leaving. Both departures were announced before the merger although it seems highly likely they knew what was coming. VML’s US-based CCO is Debbie Vandeven.

Hulbert, who succeeded WPP CEO Mark Read as boss of Wunderman, clearly has a big job on her hands as the holding company embarks on its biggest internal restructuring to date. She joined Wunderman 11 years ago as new business lead. Such people, if they survive, become relatively armoured agains the slings and arrows of agency upheavals but sorting this out is a major undertaking.

The new VML is being touted by Read and allies as the world’s biggest creative company, 30,000 people in all. although many are bound to be leaving. The UK is a major market for the Kansas City based VML. To live up to Read’s description, VML needs at least one creative heavyweight and fast.

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