PRWeek reporters 03-Jul-08
WPP has drawn up secret plans to create a global super-agency in a bid to rival the likes of Edelman, Weber Shandwick and Ketchum.
The new venture is being formed out of existing WPP agencies Cohn & Wolfe and GCI. It will trade as Cohn & Wolfe.
WPP bosses were understood to be putting the final touches to the plan as PRWeek went to press.
Media statements have already been drafted and an announcement is expected in the next few weeks. WPP is currently seeking new premises in London to house the UK arm of the merged consultancy.
The marcoms giant is merging the two agencies to gain a global reach and consolidate overlapping practices.
In the UK, the move will see C&W's 100-strong outfit merge with GCI's 40-strong unit by the end of the summer. It will bring an estimated 14 C&W offices in Europe and the US together with an estimated 43 GCI offices worldwide. As yet, no redundancies are expected.
The new company will have a combined UK fee income of £14.25m - placing it at number 11 in this year's PRWeek Top 150. Other WPP agencies Hill & Knowlton and Burson-Marsteller are at numbers six and 15 respectively.
Global CEO Donna Imperato is believed to have instigated the move. A source close to the business said: ‘It is definitely going to happen and it's imminent... Donna Imperato is running the show.'
C&W UK chief executive Fiona Noble will retain her role in the new venture following her recent appointment from Freud.
GCI chief executive Mark Cater will take on an as-yet-unspecified new role. C&W and GCI have forged close links since WPP bought GCI in 2004.
July 2008 Final preparations for merger of Cohn & Wolfe and GCI Group
June 2008 Fiona Noble starts as CEO at C&W London
April 2008 C&W buys tech shop Axicom
July 2006 Mark Cater made UK CEO at GCI
January 2006 GCI Healthcare team moves into C&W offices
April 2005 Donna Imperato named CEO of C&W/GCI holding company