In the latest move to streamline its operations, WPP has merged its powerhouse digital agency AKQA and its iconic creative agency network Grey to form AKQA Group.
Grey’s mission is creative storytelling and global brand-building at scale, while AKQA is known for its innovation and experience design skills. With heightened demand for digital transformation and technology-driven capabilities, the holding company is betting that the combination will create a powerful (and global) new proposition for clients.
The company said AKQA founder Ajaz Ahmed and Grey Worldwide CEO Michael Houston will partner to lead the new Group. Ahmed will become CEO and Houston will become Global President and Chief Operating Officer of the new entity. The AKQA Group will launch with the AKQA and Grey brands, which will be integrated over time into a single company.
The management team and creative leadership will be announced in the coming weeks, comprising leaders from AKQA and Grey.
The new group will have 6,000 people in more than 50 countries and a blue-chip client roster that includes more than half of the Fortune 500’s top 20. It will provide a full range of brand experience capabilities across all communications platforms, the idea being to strengthen the skills and services of both companies for clients.
According to the holding company the two agencies have complementary, non-competitive client rosters. The combined AKQA Group will have expertise in the media, entertainment and technology sectors as well as packaged goods, healthcare and financial services. Both are said to have highly compatible creative cultures—combined the shops have won nearly 600 Cannes Lions in the last decade.
Mark Read, CEO of WPP, stated: “Our clients want outstanding creativity, powered by technology expertise and delivered at a global scale. This new company is designed precisely to meet those needs and is another important step forward in building our future-facing offer for clients.”
The move follows similar combinations within WPP’s agency portfolio over the past couple of years, including Wunderman Thompson, VMLY&R, BCW and Wavemaker. All of the moves are part of a broader strategy by the holding company to make company operations more effective and efficient and easier to understand and navigate by clients.