VMLY&R shows ‘early signs of success’ as group prepares for ‘challenging 2019’: WPP’s Mark Read

Five months after the world’s biggest communications group, WPP, merged two of its agencies – VML and Y&R – to create VMLY&R, its CEO Mark Read has said the new agency is “showing early signs of success”.

“We are showing early signs of success in attracting new business and new talent to WPP. The newly formed VMLY&R, for example, has enjoyed a strong start, with client wins totalling $25 million in its first 90 days.

Read said: “The newly formed VMLY&R, for example, has enjoyed a strong start, with client wins totalling $25 million in its first 90 days.”

In WPP’s preliminary results for 2018, Read acknowledged that 2019 will be “challenging” due to some major client losses the year before.

“As we have said previously, 2019 will be challenging – particularly in the first half – due to headwinds from client losses in 2018. However, we start the year with fewer clients under review than we did in 2018, and investments in creativity and technology will further improve the competitiveness of our offer.”

Last year the holding group suffered a big blow as it lost three global clients in just one week.

In October,  the holding group’s Mindshare lost the American Express media account to IPG’s UM, WPP’s Global Team Blue relinquished the Ford creative account to BBDO and United Airlines moved its media account from Wunderman to Dentsu Aegis Network (DAN).

Despite this, Read said the quality of the holding group’s creative work has been “exceptional”, while he also noted Grey’s work for the controversial Gillette ad.

“The quality of our creative work has been exceptional, with six WPP spots featuring at this year’s Super Bowl and work such as Grey’s ‘The Best Men Can Be’ for Gillette demonstrating once again the global impact of what we do.”

The comments from Read about the group’s success came despite the company unveiling a 1.3% drop in revenue to $20.795bn (£15.6bn) and an 8.8% EBITDA decrease to £2.3bn.

Meanwhile, the company’s profit after tax is down 8.9% from last year, to £1.96m.

WPP’s billings for 2018 in millions

WPP’s boss – who was appointed in September – also claimed the Asia Pacific market was doing well.

“Our business is performing strongly in Western Continental Europe, Asia Pacific, Latin America, Africa & the Middle East and Central & Eastern Europe, and we are addressing our performance in the United States.

“We are at the beginning of a three-year turnaround plan, but WPP’s new positioning as a creative transformation company with stronger, more integrated, more tech-enabled agencies is already proving effective, having driven several of our recent new business successes.

“As we implement our strategy in 2019 we will continue to put creativity, technology and great work for clients at the heart of our own transformation.”

For its staff costs in 2018, WPP payed £5.710m in wages and salaries, compared to 2017’s £5.832m.


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