WPP announces another merger, fusing Geometry and VMLY&R

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Updated 18 November 2020

WPP announces another merger, fusing Geometry and VMLY&R

  • VMLY&R Commerce, which will operate as a distinct company within the VMLY&R global network, will be fully operational from Jan. 1, 2021, according to the announcement

Advertising group WPP has announced the merger of its Geometry and VMLY&R global businesses to form VMLY&R Commerce, a new end-to-end “creative commerce company” combining the talent and scale of both.

It comes just days after WPP announced the merger of its Grey and AKQA agencies to form AKQA Group.

VMLY&R Commerce, which will operate as a distinct company within the VMLY&R global network, will be fully operational from Jan. 1, 2021, according to the announcement. The integration of the agencies’ teams and assets will continue throughout the year.

WPP said that the merger will combine the commerce capabilities of both businesses to serve clients at a time of unprecedented global growth in e-commerce. The newly formed agency will be led by Beth Ann Kaminkow, previously the global CEO of Geometry. It aims to help connected brands grow by unifying client strategies around commerce to drive brand equity and conversion.

“Consumer experiences today are centered on commerce, making it increasingly important to our clients’ marketing and media decisions,” said Kaminkow. “As the pandemic accelerates new consumer behaviors and expectations, commerce is fast becoming the next channel for the most creative engagements and experiences.

“With the launch of VMLY&R Commerce, we can now offer our clients creative commerce at scale, harnessing data and technology to build brands and sell products across channels.”

Geometry has proven to be a key partner in helping clients navigate the new commerce landscape, according to the merger announcement, while VMLY&R has also experienced substantial momentum across its customer experience practice, expanding its e-commerce business with client partners.

The merger aims to provide a best-in-class, end-to-end service to clients, leveraging the combined assets of the Geometry and VMLY&R networks, which between them have more than 11,000 employees in 80 countries.

It will use Geometry’s proprietary Living Commerce platform to guide strategic commerce consultation, development and activation across retail, design, experiential and innovation disciplines. The platform provides insight into how, when and why people buy, to deliver creative commerce solutions.

“I’m thrilled to work with Beth Ann on the evolution of our collective commerce offering through VMLY&R Commerce,” said Jon Cook, VMLY&R’s global CEO. “We have been partnering closely across many clients and it is clear we share a vision and belief in the role commerce plays in a consumer’s journey and creating connected brands.

“Importantly, we both have a deep passion for leading our businesses with a focus on culture — both internally and with our client partners, which is essential in creating a new company built for the future.”

WPP CEO Mark Read said: “2020 has seen explosive growth in e-commerce as brands adapt to a new reality. This new company will offer outstanding creativity, industry-leading commerce expertise, and sophisticated data and technology skills to help brands grow in an omni-channel world. It also meets clients’ needs for simple, tightly integrated propositions from their marketing-services partners.”

Hezbollah, Amal loyalists attack journalists covering fire

Updated 26 November 2020

Hezbollah, Amal loyalists attack journalists covering fire

  • Sawt Beirut International founder says they will not be deterred from carrying out their work
  • Sawt Beirut International journalists were beaten as they attempted to flee down the stairs, Arab News was told, until they reached the street, where the Lebanese army interfered

LONDON: Sawt Beirut International reporter Rabih Chantaf and cameraman Mahmoud Al-Sayyed were attacked and harassed by Hezbollah and Amal party loyalists on Tuesday while covering a fire in Beirut.

“Sawt Beirut International will be taking additional steps in the coming period to confirm that it will not give up in the face of this terrorist attack carried out by Hezbollah,” Sawt Beirut International founder Jerry Maher told Arab News.

“We are convinced that Hezbollah gave the order to the groups that attacked our crew and this operation was organised.”

In a video depicting the incident, Chantaf is seen reporting from the 11th floor apartment in the Zouqaq Al-Blat district in Beirut where the fire occurred.

A group of firemen can be seen attending to the damage and, soon after, plain-clothed men approached the reporter and cameraman ordering them to stop filming. Voices were later heard struggling until the filming abruptly ended.

Chantaf and Al-Sayyed were beaten as they attempted to flee down the stairs, Arab News was told, until they reached the street, where the Lebanese army interfered.

“One of those terrorists even warned a soldier telling him ‘move away or we will shoot you.’ There was a very high level of incitement,” Maher, who is also the media adviser to Bahaa Hariri, the brother of Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri.

“This incident pushes us to carry on with this confrontation. We will not back down, we will not give up and we will not allow this corrupt system and those who protect it using illegitimate weapons, namely Hezbollah, to endanger the future of Lebanon and of the Lebanese people through such acts that undermine the security of the Lebanese people,” Maher said.

In a tweet Bahaa later condemning “the cowardly attack on the Sawt Beirut International team in Beirut by supporters of a duo who do not believe in freedom of the press.”

The duo refers to Hezbollah and Amal, the predominantly Shia political parties in the country.

This is not the first time Hezbollah and its allies have harassed journalists in Lebanon. Last month, journalist Luna Safwan was a victim of an online abuse campaign after a tweet she posted criticizing Hezbollah was carried by an Israeli news channel and she was accused of cooperating with Israel.

Lebanon is currently witnessing several crises. Even before the August port explosion that left at least 200 dead, the country was facing an unprecedented economic and financial slump, which the coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated.

Saad Hariri was asked to form a government after his predecessor PM Hassan Diab resigned following the explosions, and prime minister-designate Mustapha Adib gave up after struggling to form a cabinet on his terms.