VML’s Jon Cook to lead the Y&R and VML merger, under VMLY&R brand

WPP today announced the creation of a new agency, VMLY&R, uniting two leading brands in the Group, VML and Young and Rubicam (Y&R). The objective, says WPP, is delivering a contemporary, fully integrated digital and creative offering to clients on a global scale.

This merger is the first strategical movement under WPP’s new leader, Mark Read, who says on this operation: “VMLY&R will be a powerful brand experience offering and a core agency brand for WPP. VML and Y&R have distinct and complementary strengths spanning creative, technology and data services that make them a perfect match. This is an important step as we build a new, simpler WPP that provides clients with a fully integrated offering and easy access to our wealth of talent and resources.”
The new agency will be led by Global Chief Executive Officer Jon Cook, who is currently Global CEO of VML. Cook will report to Mark Read, Chief Executive Officer of WPP.

David Sable, former Global Chief Executive Officer of Y&R, future Non-Executive Chairman of VMLY&R and Ad Council Board Chair since August 2017 (PRNewsfoto/The Ad Council)

David Sable, former Global CEO of Y&R, beomes Non-Executive Chairman while transitioning to a new role in WPP.
Sable is Chair of the Ad Council’s Board of Directors since August 2017.
He defines himself as a world traveler and a gamer who is a Die-hard Doors fan, and as a grandfather, who keeps hippie at heart.

Global CEO VML since 2011

Married with Lisa and father of three daughters, Jon Cook relishes spending time with his family, who is known to be keen on hicking together.

Jon Cook (Global CEO VMLY&R). © VML.

This family man joined VML in 1996 and has served as global CEO of the agency since 2011.
During his tenure, the agency has grown from 30 employees in Kansas City, Missouri, to more than 3,000 VMLers across six continents.
Since 2011, Cook has spearheaded VML’s global expansion.

The VML global network now includes 33 offices in 15 countries. VML serves some of the world’s most recognized and respected brands, including Bridgestone, Colgate-Palmolive, Electrolux/Frigidaire, Ford, Gatorade, Johnson & Johnson, Kraft Heinz, Microsoft, NAPA AUTO PARTS, New Balance, Sherwin-Williams Consumer Brands Group, Tennessee Department of Tourist Development and Wendy’s.

In 2017, he helped guide VML through the certification process with the 3% Movement — an organization that champions female creative leadership, diversity and inclusion  and VML became one of the industry’s first 3% Certified agencies.

Jon Cook was named one of the 100 People Who Make Advertising Great by the 4A’s in 2017. He was also recognized as the Advertising Professional of the Year by the American Advertising Federation-Kansas City (AAF-KC) in 2014, and was a finalist in the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award program in 2012.

A leading advocate of the VML Foundation, the agency’s employee-funded 501(c)(3) nonprofit community service organization, the new VMLY&R CEO serves on the advisory board. He is a member of the National Advisory Board of the National World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City, Missouri, and a board member of the Head for the Cure Foundation, a national organization dedicated to discovering cures for brain cancer.

Jon Cook graduated from the University of Missouri in 1993 with a Bachelor of Journalism. In May 2018, Jon delivered the commencement address at the Missouri School of Journalism graduation ceremony.

Fully operative by 2019

VMLY&R will employ over 7,000 people, and become one of WPP’s main brands. The new merged agency will be fully operational in early 2019.

VML blends award-winning creativity with deep expertise in digital marketing. The agency has been recognized at all international creative award shows, including being named Entertainment Agency of the Year for two years in a row at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity; has been noted as a digital leader by Forrester and Gartner; and was one of the first agencies to be certified by the 3% Movement, an organization that champions female creative leadership, diversity and inclusion.

Y&R developed the world’s first and largest brand management tool, its proprietary BrandAsset Valuator, which fuels both strategic and creative decisions with data and insights. The agency’s work has consistently driven the bottom line for its clients and is continuously recognized at every major awards festival, including Cannes, D&AD, the Effies and The One Show.
The agency is known for building many of the Fortune 500’s biggest brands.


Jon Cook, Global Chief Executive Officer, VMLY&R, said: “I’m thrilled for the VMLY&R team as we start this journey together and harness the best of each agency to deliver culturally relevant world-class work. The landscape of our industry is changing rapidly, and we are committed to being an invaluable partner to CMOs around the world. I look forward to leading this unprecedented unification of two exceptional agencies.”

David Sable said on the merger: “VMLY&R has been nearly 18 years in the making as we have worked to build two successful brands and develop partnerships together with clients such as Colgate-Palmolive, Dell and the U.S. Navy. I’m proud of this pinnacle moment as we are now able to provide clients one robust, seamless offering. I look forward to supporting Jon and our VMLY&R client partners as I take on my new role within WPP.”

Image over the headline.- Jon Cook (Global CEO of VMLY&R). © VML.

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