The end of J. Walter Thompson didn’t come as a surprise. The 150-year-plus stalwart, which merged with WPP’s fast-growing Wunderman to become Wunderman Thompson was in some ways not for this time, when agency margins are razor thin and most of the growth in advertising is coming from media, not creative.
It also wasn’t a surprise considering that the departure of Martin Sorrell has in some ways marked the end of the traditional holding company era, one that WPP’s new boss Mark Read has been vocal about. Merging VML with another legacy agency, Y&R, was just step one. It speaks volumes that iconic creative names like Y&R and J. Walter Thompson were subsumed by a digital agency and direct marketing shop, respectively.
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