WPP announces merger of Burson-Marsteller, Cohn & Wolfe, merger effective in India as well

WPP (NYSE:WPP) today announced the merger of Burson-Marsteller and Cohn & Wolfe to create Burson Cohn & Wolfe (BCW), one of the world’s largest, full-service, global communications agencies with deep expertise in digital and integrated communications, across all industry sectors.

The new agency will be led by Chief Executive Officer, Donna Imperato, currently CEO of Cohn & Wolfe. Don Baer, Burson-Marsteller’s Worldwide Chair and CEO, will become Chairman and focus on delivering high-level counsel for Burson Cohn & Wolfe clients.

To secure seamless post-merger integration, Imperato has formed an executive group comprising select senior leaders from both agencies. The executive group will focus on the best ways to bring the agencies together ensuring continuity and excellence in client service.

Implications for India 

This could have implications for India as both Burson Marsteller and Cohn & Wolfe have a well regarded, independent PR presence in India. In December 2005, Genesis PR was among the first Indian firms to be acquired by an international PR firm to become Genesis Burson-Marsteller. Cohn & Wolfe, in September 2015, acquired Six Degrees PR, set up by ex Text 100 staffers, Rishi Seth and Zacharia James. 

In response to a specific question about whether the two firm will also be merged in India, Parris Bowe of Cohn & Wolfe told PRmoment India that, " This is a global merger.The global merger is effective for both agencies in all regions."

Bowe, however,  declined to confirm the names of any specific members or whether there wil be any India representative on the executive group set up to oversee the post -merger integration,

PRmoment India will continue to update the story regarding the future path of these two firms in India.

Mutual Expertise 

The release said that Burson Cohn & Wolfe combines Cohn & Wolfe’s expertise in digitally-driven, creative content and integrated communications – across the consumer, healthcare and technology sectors – with Burson-Marsteller’s strength in public affairs, corporate and crisis management, technology and research. Burson Cohn & Wolfe will be a network of more than 4,000 employees, across 42 countries.

“Our decision to merge the two agencies is driven by strong, compatible capabilities and expertise, a combined ability to deliver integrated solutions across multiple sectors and the scale to compete with the largest communications agencies in the world,” said WPP CEO, Sir Martin Sorrell.

“We have a major opportunity and the right team to take this new agency to even higher levels of success. After years of strong leadership and delivering excellent results at Cohn & Wolfe, I know that Donna will ensure the success of the combined business. I would also like to thank Don for his contribution as CEO of Burson-Marsteller over the last six years. I know he will continue his dedication to serving clients and now be able to focus entirely on high-level counsel to those clients as Chairman.”

Imperato said: “The launch of Burson Cohn & Wolfe creates a new entity in the world of communications that offers our clients unparalleled, integrated digital solutions grounded in earned media. We are energized by the fresh offerings we will bring to both our clients and our employees.”

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