WPP unites health networks into VMLY&R, Ogilvy, Wunderman

"There are some unknowns," says Mike Hudnall, global head of WPP's Health Practice.

Newly minted WPP Chief Executive Mark Read is keeping busy. The holding company announced Wednesday the integration of its health networks into major agency brands in the U.S.

The Sudler network will combine with VMLY&R, creating VMLY&R Health. Ogilvy CommonHealth will join Ogilvy, forming Ogilvy Health, and ghg will join Wunderman as part of Wunderman Health.

Grey and J. Walter Thompson will continue to provide their existing integrated health offers.

In an internal memo obtained by Campaign US, Mike Hudnall, global head of WPP’s Health Practice, told staff: "What’s next and what should you expect? As you might expect, there is a lot for us to do. There are also some unknowns. I know you all will have a lot of questions. We are committed to being as open and inclusive as possible throughout the process. 

"Immediately, you should expect to hear from your agency leaders. You will also hear soon from Ogilvy, Wunderman Health, and VMLY&R leadership, welcoming you to their respective agency families, and opening the conversation. One of our first objectives will be bringing everyone together to start talking about the change openly."

The news comes less than a month after WPP merged VML with Y&R, creating VML&YR, led by VML global CEO Jon Cook. Y&R's global chief executive and chairman, is now non-executive chairman of the combined entity.

The integration process is underway and will be completed in the first half of 2019.

WPP Health & Wellness, the sub-holding company that currently houses WPP’s specialist health networks, will be retired.

Mike Hudnall will lead a new health practice that better mobilizes WPP’s capabilities for the benefit of clients, says WPP.

Claire Gillis, currently CEO of WPP Health & Wellness International, will continue to lead WPP’s international specialist healthcare businesses which will remain unchanged as a consolidated offering of ghg, Sudler and Ogilvy HealthWorld to meet local client and market needs.

"Health is an important and expanding sector for WPP," said WPP CEO Mark Read in a statement. "Our new healthcare offering is another step in our evolution as we create a simpler WPP that integrates the full power of our company for clients."

Earlier this month, Ford, one of WPP’s largest accounts for decades, shifted its global creative business to BBDO Worldwide, following a competitive review. WPP retained the media and production portion of the business.

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