WPP is fastening four of its digital agencies together with an optimistic new name, Possible Worldwide. Together, the four agencies will form a network consisting of about 1,000 staffers in 18 offices worldwide.
The newly connected shops are Schematic, Bridge Worldwide, BLUE, and Quasar, all of which have been acquired by WPP over the past five years. Trevor Kaufman, formerly the CEO of Schematic, will lead Possible as worldwide CEO.
“The shift in marketing isn’t just a shift to digital,” said Kaufman in a press release. “It’s a shift from broadcasting messages to focusing on creating great branded experiences that benefit both the client and the consumer. Possible Worldwide was created to respond to marketers’ simultaneous needs for new and disruptive business strategies; digitally-lead marketing ideas; and the data, technology and scale needed to execute them efficiently around the world.”
Some big-name clients of the combined agency include AT&T, Comcast, Dell, General Mills, and P&G.
The move reflects the increasing pressure on digital agencies to operate globally if they want to compete with powerhouse shops like Publicis' Razorfish and Digitas. Possible will be the first digital-only network in WPP's stable, joining legacy networks such as Ogilvy & Mather and JWT.
"It's not surprising that WPP would want to have a global network to compete with other agency networks such as Razorfish or Digitas at Publicis, or R/GA at Interpublic," said AKQA CEO Tom Bedecarré in an interview when asked about WPP's Possible. "It makes sense that they [WPP] would bring together a series of small acquisitions and try to pull it into a single entity."
He said the concept of rolling up digital shops into one agency is not a new concept – in fact, it's an approach taken by AKQA.
"It's challenging to bring four cultures around the world together into one brand. We'll have to wait and see how the integration and emergence of the brand works," he said of WPP's initiative.
Anna Maria Virzi contributed to this report.
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Douglas Quenqua is a journalist based in Brooklyn, NY who writes about culture and technology. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Wired, The New York Observer, and Fortune.
March 19, 2014