WPP merges global networks Y&R with VML to form VMLY&R to be led by VML's Jon Cook

Jon-Cook-VML.jpgWPP today announced the creation of a new agency, VMLY&R, uniting two of its leading brands to deliver a fully integrated digital and creative offering to clients on a global scale.

The new agency will be led by Global Chief Executive Officer Jon Cook (left), who is currently Global CEO of VML. Jon will report to Mark Read, Chief Executive Officer of WPP. David Sable, former Global CEO of Y&R, will continue to support Jon, VMLY&R and its clients as Non-Executive Chairman as he transitions to a new role in WPP.

It is not yet clear who will be the merged group's chief creative officer, with New York-based Tony Granger (pictured below) currently in charge of Y&R, versus Kansas City-based Debbi Vandeven (pictured below) heading VML.

How the merger will fully pan out in the Asia-Pacific region is also unclear at this stage. In Australia the merged entity will be run jointly by Y&R CEO Peter Bosilkovski and VML Australia managing director and ECD Aden Hepburn.
tony-granger-young-rubicam-3.jpgDebbi-Vandeven-VML.jpgVMLY&R will be an agency of more than 7,000 people, and one of WPP's principal brands. It will be fully operational in early 2019.

Y&R is one of the world's most awarded agency networks, consistently recognized at every major awards festival, including Cannes, D&AD, the Effies and The One Show.

VML has established itself as one of the most forward-looking agencies in today's marketplace - blending award-winning creativity with deep expertise in digital marketing. The agency has been recognized at all international creative award shows, including being named Entertainment Agency of the Year for two years in a row at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity; has been noted as a digital leader by Forrester and Gartner; and was one of the first agencies to be certified by the 3% Movement, an organization that champions female creative leadership, diversity and inclusion.

Says Mike Connaghan, CEO, WPP AUNZ: "This is incredibly exciting news. We have a stated ambition of fewer, bigger, better companies and to my mind VML Y&R has been an opportunity waiting to happen. Bringing together the Brand building and strategic prowess of Y&R with the creative, tech and brand experience driven VML is a match made in heaven.  VML and Y&R have partnered in this market for a long time, formalizing that partnership will allow us to accelerate growth for our people, help us build on the relative strengths and scale of each business and offer a fantastic option for clients across Australia and New Zealand."

Says Read: "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."

Says Cook: "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."

Adds Sable: "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."


Sir Mart said:

WPP merges agencies to create LKJSDNADKJDY&R

That name said:

Just rolls off the tongue doesn't it


The argument was dropping the GP (George Patterson) from Y&R Melbourne would bring Melbourne office more in line with the Y&R Network, giving a better offering from a global network that was under the one acronym.

So much for that logic.

Very Minimal Looking Young & Ready said:

Or not.

Groucho said:

Y&R in Sydney was last a decent agency circa 1977 before it was slowly eroded by self obsessed management with little ability other than enough to retain global accounts. Grey men in grey suits producing grey advertising.

New Favourite Drama said:

Will this be a special on Netflix?

I Wonder..... said:

I Wonder how the Sydney Office will look and who'll be at the helm Creatively?...

Marty McFly said:

This digital thing could really take off

Not so new ad guy said:

Another big player in Sydney. Will be interesting to see how this pans out for y&r

Thunder Dome said:

The role duplication in this merger is extensive...

In reality said:

Let the redundancies begin...


WPP Just trying to hang in there.

Stand off said:

This town ain't big enough for both of us....

Hepburn v Bos said:

Anyone taking bets?

VOM & LYAR said:


I used to be a Barista said:

Back to lattes you go

End of an era said:

The Y&R guys will really miss those Granger meetings.

Soz Boz said:

Defence is not coming through. Havas have it locked and loaded

Thoughts & Prayers. said:

Havas has lost Defence but it certainly ain't going back to Y&R either so Hepburn will have more network connections to spin this internally in his favor. Disappointing. Feel for everyone involved.

Cook + Hepburn vs Boz said:

Naaaaa. Good bloke and operator but in this case gaaaaaaaaaaaawwwn

Name not included said:

‘Havas losing Defense’, now THAT is hilarious!

One of the greatest exhibitions of service ever. Look at Y&R Melbourne as a comparison. That was like kids in charge of your dads Commodore.

Cough cough ... said:

The Hepburn effect.

@ Hepburn vs Bos said:

I’d back the big boy who doesn’t still live in his parents basement

Hmmm said:

A few ex employees here, it seems.

@@hepburn vs Boz said:

Good luck Boz. We’re all watching

@hmmmm said:

Def a few ex employees. All sounding as bitter as fuck.

It’s interesting that commenters are implying he is going to get the boot. Say what you want, but VML are doing really well and have been for a long time. Seems highly unlikely they’d turf the person at the helm of it all

Mini Trump said:


There’s toxic narcissism and then there’s rampant toxic politics, and the two definitely go hand-in-hand. Having either within your organisation definitely wont make you CEO material.

@Thoughts & Prayers said:

My mail is Havas will keep hold of Defence.
Who do you think has won it if not Havas?

Ah but will Dex promote the receptionist to acting CD? said:

I hear this makes agencies great!

The end is near said:

So disappointing to see a once great established agency as George Patterson be destroyed from the inside and thrown aside.The final nail in the coffin for Y&R though looking forward to seeing how Hepburn vs Boz plays out. Good luck VML.

@hepburn vs boz said:

Pretty sure there's enough room for both of them

LMAOY&R said:

Toxic thread to say the least. Good luck to you guys.

Jesus said:

Settle down kids, it's just advertising. You're not curing AIDS.

Own goal said:

Hmmmm....seems the boss has jumped in. Either that or the barista

One small step said:

We know when the decline began

Same s@#t different logo said:

New trend for network nepotism and Ai jargon self-obessed PR tripe


Mr Slide Into The Room Doing A Wiggles Wave said:

What's Nagy gonna do. He's hardly a "digital native"!

Chief Coffee Operator said:

Best baristas in town right here

I used to be a Barista said:

Now someone will be taking the orders instead of thinking she could give them

The smart money said:

Hope Tony gets the gig, he's fucking scary but fucking good at what he does.

Doubt it though because it's 2018 and he's not a chick.

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