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Doug Zanger, Erik Oster, Minda Smiley & Sara Spray | November 11, 2020

ADWEEK WPP Merges AKQA and Grey to Form AKQA Group

It’s the third such move for the holding company in the past 2 years

According to an agency spokesperson, the setup begins effective today, and employees were made aware of the merger earlier today. The resulting organization will be known as AKQA Group and will have headquarters in London and New York. According to Mark Read, WPP CEO, Grey will fall under the AKQA Group banner and, as of now, will retain its name. AKQA CEO Ajaz Ahmed will take the CEO role while Grey CEO Michael Houston will become president and COO. “We’re looking to better serve our clients, integrate our offer and future-proof our company,” Read told Adweek.

While both agencies have global scope, each brings very different propositions to the table. Grey, over a century old and Adweek’s 2015 Global Agency of the Year, is perceived as a more creatively-led legacy ad agency while AKQA is better known as one of the forebears of digital agencies specializing in service and products across the web, mobile and social. According to Ahmed, the two mergers provided a roadmap and an opportunity to learn, especially “seeing the benefit to clients and people inside, getting access to more opportunities and the chance to learn different skills.” “The thing that we’re learned—and it’s a cliché—but this is a ‘people business,'” added Houston. “When your people align to a vision and shared ambition, everything else becomes that much easier.” He also noted that the pandemic has enhanced the agencies’ ability to collaborate more seamlessly. The combined entity will employ around 6,000 people across more than 50 countries, with a client roster that WPP claims includes over half of Fortune 500’s top 20. Read noted that both agencies are of similar size and have complementary clients, capabilities and strong creative cultures.

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