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WPP consolidation train powers on as five agencies merged into one ‘Superunion’ across Asia

WPP has launched a new global agency called Superunion after consolidating five brand consultancies into one.

The world’s largest advertising holding company has combined the brand and design agencies Brand Union, The Partners, Lambie-Nairn, Addison Group and VBAT into one mega-company.

Outlining the new company’s make-up, WPP said in a statement:

“Superunion has a network of 750 people, with 23 offices in 18 countries, and client billings in excess of $100 million worldwide; its global clients include Diageo, FIFA, Ford, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Vodafone. Superunion works regionally with brands including Tencent, Guangzhou Automobile Company, Oppo, Alibaba, Amnesty International, the Hong Kong Jockey Club, NTUC Fairprice and Zalora. It is designed to answer the needs of clients today by enabling them to engage with a wider array of specialists, provide a more connected set of services, and will make strategic, creative and client-focused excellence accessible at scale.”

Superunion will have a footprint across Singapore, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Jakarta, Beijing and Shanghai under the leadership of of former Brand Union boss and now Asia CEO Benedict Gordon.

Until recently, Gordon was a partner at Prophet in Hong Kong. Joining him at the company’s helm will be Po Kay Lee, another former Brand Union honcho, who will take over as Superunion managing director for Singapore Asia Pacific.

Gordon said: “Superunion is our goal as well as our new name. Our purpose is to create powerful connections that unite organisations and people, and we’ll do that by matching our best and brightest talent across Asia with the ambitions of the region’s leading brands.”

The news follows a pattern of consolidation and integration undertaken by WPP over recent years. In the three years since CEO Sir Martin Sorrell indicated agencies needed to merge to keep down their costs, WPP has consolidated a number of brands, including Possible with Wunderman, Rockfish with VML and Neo Ogilvy into Mindshare.

Last year also saw GroupM fold Maxus into sibling media agency MEC, creating the new brand Wavemaker. 

In what Sorrell has previously dubbed ‘horizontality’, the integration stems from the company’s new PR branding of “working together for the benefit of the client”.

Sorrell delved further into this stance in an interview in 2016, whereby he said:”The ultimate way you get to horizontality is to have one brand. That would be impossible, in my view, because the parent company would get confused with the operating company. However, we are increasingly organised by client and by country.

“If they’re working for the client, we’re increasingly incentivising them on the results of that client. That could be the client’s revenue growth, or the client’s profit, or the client’s happiness and satisfaction. The biggest issue for us is how do you get everybody to think about the group as a whole? So all these people in that vertical have to think about that.”

Last year, WPP faced its worst financial year in a decade, as its growth forecast slumped to between zero and 1 per cent, due to advertisers’ slashed spending.

Speaking at the time, Sorrell said 2018’s results were “unlikely to be much different”.

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