WPP Retires Centrespread network Affiliate, Grey Creative Brand, Merged with AKQA
It’s the end of an era as WPP announced it will retire its 103-year-old legacy Grey creative brand, merging the agency with digital shop AKQA in a new wave of Merger & Acquisition. The two agencies will move forward as AKQA Group, a new creative solutions network.
AKQA Group will house 6,000 employees across more than 50 countries, Nigeria not being an exception.
According to agency reports, AKQA Founder Ajaz Ahmed and Grey Worldwide CEO Michael Houston will lead the network as CEO and global president, respectively. The management and creative leadership teams will be announced in coming weeks, according to the company.
The almighty Grey creative brand’s flag was once hoisted by Insight communication in Nigeria for close to two decades after which the network and its local affiliate of many years parted ways to give room for the Insight partnership deal with Publicis Groupe.
Thereafter, the Grey brand joined forces with its current affiliate in Nigeria, Centrespread in 2017 with the proviso for the Nigerian agency to adopt the name to become CentrespreadGrey.
WPP said the new network will launch with both the AKQA and Grey brands, and the two will be integrated over time into AKQA Group.
WPP CEO Mark Read tells Ad Age many of the logistics are still being sorted out, reiterating that “nothing will change on day one. We will integrate the companies in cooperation with our clients.” Read says merging two companies in the middle of a pandemic is “obviously tough to do” so the process will not be rushed.
The merger is not entirely surprising. There have been whispers in the industry of a Grey-AKQA mashup ever since Read took the helm of WPP in 2018 and began merging larger, struggling legacy creative brands with smaller digital players. Still, not many people would have expected WPP to dump the Grey brand outright, perhaps thinking it would go the way of VMLY&R (born from the merger of VML and Y&R) and Wunderman Thompson (created from Wunderman and J. Walter Thompson), with some new brand formed from the mashing of names (AKQGrey, perhaps?).
Read says, on the branding aspect, the company didn’t want to create a “linguistic tongue twister” by naming the new network something like AKQGrey.
It is not unlikely that the name change will reflect in the Nigerian market as the West African hob for the Grey brand, the Nigerian affiliate will most likely be compelled to AKQA for Grey the rested Grey. So expect another metamorphosis of the Centrespread agency brand.
With agency reports Adage