AKQA completes merger with whiteGrey, execs announced

AKQA completes merger with whiteGrey, execs announced - Justine Leong and Jeremy Smart

The merger was first announced in March, along with whiteGREY CEO Lee Simpson’s departure.

The merger of two WPP creative agencies, AKQA and Grey, is officially complete as of this week.

The move comes three and a half years after they were combined globally to form the AKQA Group, and three months after the move to operationally merge the two agencies in Australia was announced. As part of the merger, whiteGREY CEO Lee Simpson departed the business.

AKQA is now the lead brand in four markets, including Australia, led by AKQA’s APAC managing partner, Brian Vella. Grey continues to be the lead brand in China.

Vella reports directly to AKQA global CEO and founder, Ajaz Ahmed.

In Australia, AKQA is led by managing director Jeremy Smart, and supported by general manager of Sydney, Justine Leonge.

In comment to Mediaweek, Smart said: “For two and a half decades we’ve been building our strength and suitability for this constantly changing landscape. We are fit for complexity. That’s exactly what our clients need, and we help them find differentiation to deliver breakthrough results”.

Leong added: “The strength of AKQA is that innovation is in our DNA. We were born to handle complexity, applying creativity and technology to bring clarity and fresh perspective for our clients. We have been recognised as AFR’s Most Innovative Company, two of the last three years. This is a powerful advantage in today’s landscape.

As a result of the merger, AKQA operates across six arts and sciences specialisms: growth strategy, storytelling, emerging ideas, product and experience, technology, and data and AI. The client roster includes such brands Bunnings, HESTA, Scentre Group, KFC, Adore Beauty, Country Road Group, Officeworks, Visit Victoria, and Volvo.

The White Agency and Grey Group Australia first merged to form whiteGrey in 2017.

“I joined whiteGREY at a challenging time when Grey and The White Agency merged and embarked on an ambitious journey of expansion and growth to its services, capabilities and clients,” Simpson said at the time his departure became public.

“We created a new positioning and model, welcomed some fantastic clients, have been recognised as a top ten agency in the region for creativity and effectiveness (Cannes and WARC respectively) and are currently AFR’s Most Innovative Media & Marketing Company and the Most Innovative Small business in ANZ. We proved Tension really can create extraordinary.”

See also: WPP merges Grey and AKQA’s operations in Australia, Lee Simpson departs

Top image: Justine Leong and Jeremy Smart

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