WPP Integrates Health Offering Under Agency Brands in the U.S.

Move creates VMLY&R Health, Ogilvy Health and Wunderman Health

CEO Mark Read has introduced "radical evolution" as the company's new positioning. - Credit by Getty Images
Headshot of Erik Oster

WPP announced today that it’s integrating its specialist health networks under agency brands in the United States, a process which is currently ongoing and is anticipated to be completed sometime during the first six months of 2019.

The latest move from former Wunderman CEO Mark Read, who was officially named WPP’s new CEO in early September, comes less than a month after the merger of VML and Y&R to create VMLY&R. Earlier this month, Read also announced his first three executive appointments as CEO.

“Health is an important and expanding sector for WPP,” Read said in a statement. “Our new healthcare offering is another step in our evolution as we create a simpler WPP that integrates the full power of our company for clients.”

Under the new integration plan, the Sudler network will combine with VMLY&R to create VMLY&R Health, Ogilvy CommonHealth will join Ogilvy to create OgilvyHealth and GHG will join Wunderman to create Wunderman Health. Grey and J. Walter Thompson, meanwhile, will continue offering existing integrated healthcare services.

The news resembles a less dramatic version of Publicis Groupe’s announcement, made during its recent third quarter earnings call, that it would divest or sell off its Public Health Services division following a strategic review due to a lack of growth.

WPP’s approach is intended to offer simpler, more flexible and integrated solutions for healthcare clients by fusing industry expertise with the creative, data and technology offerings of more traditional entities VMLY&R, Ogilvy and Wunderman. In the case of Wunderman Health and GHG, the integration combines Wunderman’s data and analytics capabilities with GHG’s science capabilities. It’s somewhat reminiscent of the approach Wunderman Health CEO Becky Chidester and Read took when they integrated specialist healthcare expertise into Wunderman Health.

As a result of the integration, WPP Health & Wellness—which currently houses the specialized health networks—will be retired.

WPP Health & Wellness CEO Mike Hudnall, who will report directly to Read, will lead a new flexible health practice designed to better utilize the holding company’s capabilities on behalf of clients.

“Integrating our capabilities with the agency brands and operating as a practice will allow us to bring greater impact and flexibility to our clients in the health sector,” Hudnall said. “The new structure offers clients increased strategic partnership and a simple way to access the largest pool of health specialists in the world.”

WPP Health & Wellness International CEO Claire Gillis will continue leading WPP’s international healthcare specialist offerings, which remain unchanged. The consolidated healthcare specialists Ogilvy HealthWorld, Sudler and GHG will continue to work with global clients to meet demands locally.

@ErikDOster erik.oster@adweek.com Erik Oster is an agencies reporter for Adweek.