WPP Plans to Fold Possible Worldwide Into Wunderman

By Suzanne Vranica Features Dow Jones Newswires

Advertising giant WPP PLC is folding its digital ad firm Possible Worldwide into digital agency Wunderman, according to people familiar with the matter.

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The holding company is merging Possible Worldwide -- which has roughly $250 million in annual revenue and works on behalf of clients such as Procter & Gamble, AT&T and Starbucks -- into Wunderman, its direct marketing and customer relationship marketing juggernaut, the people said.

Wunderman has an estimated $1.2 billion in annual revenue and operates in about 60 countries around the globe. The two companies have several clients in common, including Microsoft. The Possible brand is expected to continue, the people said.

A spokesman for WPP declined to comment.

WPP is seeking to offer up a simpler structure for clients that want more integration across marketing functions, such as data, digital, creative advertising and media buying, according to ad executives. The company has been streamlining its operations to get its companies to work more closely together.

The holding company recently placed Salmon, an e-commerce specialist that it acquired in 2013, within Wunderman. Meanwhile, GroupM, the umbrella firm that house WPP's ad buying firms, is combining its ad buying agencies MEC and Maxus in an effort to save money and invest in new growth areas.

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Wunderman was founded in 1958. Possible was created in 2011 when WPP combined several of its digital agencies around the world to create a bigger entity that could better compete for global accounts. Mark Read, Wunderman's global chief executive officer, was one of the executives responsible for the creation of Possible. At that time, Mr. Read was chief executive of WPP Digital.

Most recently, Possible has been bulking up on its Amazon expertise, as marketers seek out help in dealing with the e-commerce giant and its growing ad business.

WPP Chief Executive Martin Sorrell has been outspoken about Amazon's growing presence in the ad business. He recently described the online retail giant as the "gorilla in the room" and said its $13.4 billion acquisition of grocery chain Whole Foods could bolster Amazon's ability to influence how and where WPP spends marketers' ad dollars.

Write to Suzanne Vranica at suzanne.vranica@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

July 05, 2017 18:19 ET (22:19 GMT)