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WPP

Studiocom Rebrands as VML

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Atlanta-based digital agency Studiocom, which has given Brooklynites the “Hand Washing Station” for Kleenex and celebrated Steve Jobs Day among other things over the years, has officially changed its name to VML, which doesn’t seem like too much of a stretch considering that it’s housed within the latter, WPP-owned network since 2005. Jon Cook, CEO/president of VML, says in a statement, “We have always had a great synergy and connectivity. Re-branding Studiocom to VML immediately strengthens our collective offering in North and South America. By becoming one company, we have the opportunity to accelerate growth and capability, without losing any of the unique Studiocom heritage, expertise or culture.”

As a result of the rebranding, Studiocom, which also has offices in Boston and Bogota, will add approximately 115 staffers and clients like Kimberly-Clark-owned Kleenex and Turner to the VML network. As far as leadership is concerned, Studiocom co-presidents Juan Fernando Santos and Chris Edmondson will join the VML executive leadership team with the former assuming the new role of chief experience officer and the latter taking on the executive director position for VML’s new Boston, Bogota and Atlanta offices as well as their respective clients.

Fremont’s Move to MEC Made Official

While we’re on the Digitas tip, it looks like our sources were spot-on a couple of weeks ago when they told us that Carl Fremont, who left the aforementioned agency after a dozen years of service, was headed to MEC. Truth be told, Fremont has indeed joined the WPP/GroupM media unit as its first-ever global chief digital officer. MEC global CEO Charles Courtier says in a statement, “Hiring Carl is an essential step in the continued growth of MEC globally. Carl’s mix of skills has made him one of the leading digital specialists in the industry; he is uniquely qualified to help us navigate and develop the future of our business.”

Fremont will assume his global CDO post in May and continue to work out of New York. As we’ve mentioned before, prior to his time at Digitas, the exec spent 16 years at Wunderman, leading direct media efforts for clients including AmEx, Citibank and AT&T. In his new gig at MEC, Fremont will serve on the agency’s executive committee, as one would expect considering his title.

It Appears We Were Right About a G2, Ogilvy Union

This looks like a pretty legit report from the London newswires and it confirms what we first speculated on last week, that G2 was separating from Grey and aligning under Ogilvy. Well, this just adds to what’s already been a busy week for Martin Sorrell and the gang at WPP. Here’s what appears to be the official announce, verbatim:

“LONDON—WPP (NASDAQ:WPPGY), the world’s leading communications services group, announces that its wholly owned subsidiaries, OgilvyAction and G2, will come together in a joint venture to form a company within the Group that becomes the largest and most geographically complete activation agency in the world.

The new entity marries the skill sets of two successful global businesses, which will operate in more than 100 offices in 56 countries. They bring complementary expertise in consumer activation, trade marketing, shopper marketing, one-to-one marketing and digital activation.

Read more

WPP Takes Over john st.

You may have heard the word (shout out to the Toronto Egotist for the tip), but yes, Toronto-based john st. is the latest shop to be swooped up by Sir Martin Sorrell & Co. at WPP. As of now, though, neither john st,’s name/structure nor location will be affected by the WPP purchase, which comes just over two years after the holding company added fellow notable Canadian agency TAXI to its roster.

In a statement, Arthur Flesichmann, president/CEO of 12-year-old john st.,  known for quirkier efforts like the Granny-starring National Sweater day work and “Buyral, says the agency “…will continue to do the kind of work that has made our clients and us unignorable for the past 12 years. But now we will be able to offer services in areas that clients are asking for such as media, direct and public relations.”

Financial details of the WPP/john st. deal have not been disclosed. Current staff count at the newly acquired agency is approximately 100 and notable current clients include Mitsubishi, ING Direct, TJX (Winners, Marshalls), Kobo and AstraZeneca. Marketing fills in more of the blanks on this news here.

We Hear: G2 to Detach from Grey, Align with Ogilvy?

We’ve been hearing murmurs about this since early last week, and now, sources familiar with the matter fill us in on what could transpire in the coming weeks within the WPP umbrella, specifically for G2. From what we’re being told, G2–which currently operates as its own separate unit under WPP despite being born from Grey and aligned under Grey Global Group (the “parent/child” relationship was never really a thing, though, say sources)–is pretty much set to realign under WPP sibling Ogilvy and become an Ogilvy company.

Sources tell us that G2′s move to peel away from Grey has been discussed by all parties involved since late last year, but it’s been stop and start ever since. Tipsters on the Spy line, though, tell us that G2′s purported realignment was already announced at a recent town hall meeting. Whatever the case, G2′s move to Ogilvy’s New York HQ, aka “The Chocolate Factory,” doesn’t seem too far-fetched when you consider that the former’s recently installed USA CEO, Harvey Kipnis, has a relationship with the latter that dates back to 2003. We’ll try to fill in the blanks once we get some clarification and/or confirmation on the matter.

Team Detroit to Launch NYC-Based Boutique for Lincoln

Ah, so this is why we got a last-minute invite to a conference here in New York starring WPP don Sir Martin Sorrell among others. Come Jan. 1, WPP’s Team Detroit unit will launch a new unit here in the Big Apple that will be dedicated to the Lincoln brand. The new division will be led by McKinney alum and automotive industry vet Cameron McNaughton, who joins as president, as well as CCO Jon Pearce, who formerly served as ECD at BBH New York.

Regarding the Lincoln link of Team Detroit, which will ship some members to NYC, McNaughton says in a statement, “Our goal is simple: To help our partners at Lincoln create a new future for their brand as it reinvents itself. To achieve this, we are dedicated to creating a new, best-in-category integrated agency team that utilizes the top creative talent recruited within and outside of the WPP and Team Detroit network.”

No, there is no name yet for the new division but we’ll let you take a stab.

Y&R NY to Move from Madison Ave to Columbus Circle

 

After spending 85 years at 285 Madison Avenue, Y&R New York is ready to make a move as the agency’s signed a deal to shift staff to 3 Columbus Circle, where they will occupy 10 floors (more than Grey NY?). The move won’t officially take place until 2013, but once completed, the new digs will house not only Y&R, but several of its WPP siblings including Wunderman, VML, Blast Radius, BrandBuzz, Bravo, Kang & Lee, KBM Group and ZAAZ. We’ve been told that Y&R’s been looking for space that “makes it much easier to collaborate.”

In a statement, Y&R global CEO David Sable says, “It’s exciting, and totally relevant to what we do, to be thrust into one of the most vibrant neighborhoods in the city, with great art, music, theater, shopping and food within walking distance, not to mention all of Central Park at our disposal.  As thrilling is starting with clean space–we are designing space that is optimal for absolutely every aspect of what we do and who we are.”

Update: Well, figured it’s more fitting to post the actual image of the 3 Columbus Circle office.

WPP Bumps Omnicom from ‘Biggest Marketing Group’ Perch

Take that, Wren. At least that’s what we imagine Sir Marty’s saying to the CEO of rival, Omnicom, this morning as it’s being reported that WPP has overtaken the aforementioned fellow umbrella company as the world’s biggest marketing group. Last we heard, Mr. Sorrell and crew ended 2010 with somewhat of a bang as WPP acquired TAXI and Blue State Digital in November and December, respectively.

Now, a new release from Marketing Services Financial Intelligence states that WPP registered the largest revenue for a global publicly listed marketing services company last year. Revenue for the U.K.-based holding company jumped 13 percent ($10.7b-$12.1b) from 2008 to 2009 thanks in large part to WPP’s acquisition of market research firm TNS in the fall of ’08. Omnicom, on the other hand, suffered a 12 percent drop in revenue during the same time period thanks to the economic downturn, which of course, caused a reduction in client spend.

As for the also-rans, Publicis Groupe came in third in the report, pushing IPG down to fourth place, while Dentsu, Havas and Aegis respectively rounded out the rest of the list.

WPP Acquires TAXI

Sir Martin Sorrell nabbed another one today as his WPP announced that it’s acquired TAXI and is aligning the shop with its roster of Young & Rubicam Brands unit. TAXI as most of you probably know was founded by Paul Lavoie and Jane Hope in Montreal in 1992 and with this move, Lavoie maintains his post as the agency’s chairman while Rob Guenette serves as its CEO.

Lavoie will in turn report to Y&R Brands CEO/chairman Peter Stringham, who seems excited enough about the moving, saying in a statement, “TAXI is a fantastic addition to our group. It will fit perfectly with the 30 companies at Young & Rubicam Brands that span the marketing communications spectrum offering another exciting dimension to create innovative integrated  solutions. We also believe that their strong client roster will benefit from the wide range of resources and talents at Young & Rubicam Brands.” TAXI currently has offices throughout Canada as well as in New York and Amsterdam and the “strong client roster” Stringham is referring to includes New York Life, Heineken, Burger King and the Toronto Raptors. 

WPP Boasts 36% Profit Boost

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Sir Martin Sorrell is surely smiling somewhere today as his holding company WPP posted a 36 percent lift in pre-tax profits to approximately $380 million for the first half of 2010, thanks in large part to strong ad recovery in the U.S. and return to growth in the U.K. according to Campaign.

The parent company of Ogilvy, Grey and JWT among others issued a statement, saying, “The results reflect the recovery in the world economy, following the massive fiscal and monetary stimulus in response to the sub-prime, insurance monocline, Lehman and other elements of the crises.”

During the six month period ending June 30, WPP revenue was up in Asia-Pacific, Africa (the World Cup had a little to do with it) and the Middle East among others and the company shed a further 9,500 employees around the world.

More: “British Chancellor Pleads for WPP’s Return to the U.K.

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