WPP shakeup merges Essence with Mediacom, Mindshare with Neo

Big clients Google and Unilever endorse deal as GroupM streamlines offerings.

WPP shakeup merges Essence with Mediacom, Mindshare with Neo

WPP’s GroupM is merging media agencies Essence with MediaCom, and Mindshare with performance marketing shop Neo, in steps the company said will simplify operations and accelerate innovation for clients.

Essence and MediaCom will merge to form EssenceMediacom, a new agency offering fusing digital and data-driven strengths of Essence, a 2020 Ad Age Data and Analytics Agency of the Year, with MediaCom’s multichannel audience planning and media strengths, the company said.

Both moves build on last year’s launch of Choreograph, WPP’s global data and technology company, WPP said in a statement.

As part of the restructuring, emoloyees and technology from Finecast, Xaxis and GroupM Services, the group’s community of activation experts, will be combined to form GroupM Nexus, which WPP said will be the “world’s leading media performance organization.”

Nick Lawson, global CEO of MediaCom, will lead the newly formed EssenceMediacom as Global CEO. Kyoko Matsushita, after eight years at Essence, will take the new role of WPP’s CEO in Japan.

“We are passionate about the opportunity technology gives us to help our clients navigate constant change and achieve their growth goals,” said Christian Juhl, global CEO of GroupM, in a statement. “The future of marketing is outcomes driven, supported by audience-first planning and continually improving, AI-enabled performance standards. Through GroupM Nexus and our agency powerhouses Mindshare, Wavemaker and EssenceMediacom, we are building a tech-enabled future, side by side with our clients, that is accountable to advertisers’ growth goals and to our vision for an advertising ecosystem that works for everyone.”

The moves were endorsed by key GroupM clients Google and Unilever in WPP’s statement.

Joshua Spanier, VP marketing at Google, said: "Our long-term partnership with Essence, complemented by Mediacom, is helping us deliver on our ambitious marketing goals. The combination of smart insights, analytical rigor, and expansive creative thinking, scaled around the world, has been unlocking new opportunities, and delivering stronger impact; we're excited about this next step forward in our work together."

Luis Di Como, executive PP global media at Unilever, said in the statement: “We are encouraged by the changes announced today by GroupM which will see greater integration between data-driven marketing, multichannel audience planning, performance, and strategic media expertise.”

EssenceMediacom will launch with 10,000 employees across 125 offices in 2023, and shared global clients that also include Mars and NBCUniversal. COMvergence ranked MediaCom first in the industry for new business wins in 2021 with $2.87 billion in new billings, WPP said, while Essence continued to grow with Google and other key clients.

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GroupM Nexus will launch as a global organization with 9,000 digital and technology practitioners, uniting GroupM’s addressable content and TV, AI technology and omnichannel solutions from Finecast, Xaxis and GroupM Services into a single unit.

Mindshare will integrate Neo’s 1,200 performance marketing experts and consultants and its digital services into its global offering and 10,000 media specialists. Mindshare ranked third in global new business for 2021, per COMvergence data cited by WPP.