Young & Rubicam Brands

Peter Stringham, Global chief executive officer

Report by Peter Stringham (above)
Global chief executive officer

Young & Rubicam Brands is one of the largest groups of communications services companies within WPP. The Brands companies have the longest history of working collaboratively to deliver communications solutions to clients – some of the companies have been working together over 30 years. It’s a model that works. Every one of our major global clients use more than two Young & Rubicam Brands companies, over 90% use at least three, and more than half use four of our companies. In fact, around the world, more than 800 clients engage us across multiple disciplines.

2008 put us in a strong position to manage the great uncertainty of the global economy this year. Our revenues were up, with some of our companies achieving double-digit growth. Growth was both organic and from focused new business efforts across the Brands. Y&R won three major global assignments: LG, Danone waters and the consolidated Bacardi Rum business. Wunderman added Southwest Airlines, AT&T, as well as Novartis. Burson-Marsteller had solid organic growth from clients like Hewlett-Packard, Intel and Nestlé. Landor had tremendous client wins in China and India. Other wins across all our companies are noted in the following reports; clearly we demonstrated our ability to create tangible opportunities. Our intent this year is to help our clients find their opportunities in a volatile marketplace.

All of the Young & Rubicam Brands companies are now completely digitally integrated. Wunderman made four digital acquisitions and built KnowledgeBase Marketing around the network. With Blast Radius and ZAAZ among their digital properties, Wunderman now has a completely global digital network. Burson-Marsteller has integrated digital across all its practices. Cohn & Wolfe has enhanced its digital expertise with its acquisition of Axicom. And, at the beginning of 2009, Y&R formalized its long-standing relationship with VML, one of Forrester’s most highly-ranked digital companies, and will build the digital partnership globally through Y&R’s network. In select markets, including Y&R’s headquarters NY agency, the digital operation will be known as VML/Y&R.

We helped raise the level of discussion in the industry with thoughtful new books. The Brand Bubble by John Gerzema, Y&R’s Chief Insights Officer, and Ed Lebar, CEO of our BrandAsset® Consulting unit, used BrandAsset® Valuator data to analyze how companies have overvalued their brands. The book made the Amazon.com, Business Week and 800.CEO.READ bestseller lists. Simon Silvester, head of Planning for Y&R EMEA, authored AAAGH! – a look at the profound impact of the recession on marketing. And Allen Adamson, managing director of Landor’s New York office authored his second book to critical acclaim, BrandDigital, focusing on best digital practices and the brands that are utilizing them.

The year brought tremendous industry recognition and awards around the world for Y&R Brands companies, reflecting the high creative standards we hold across all our companies.

Young & Rubicam Brands is built on the proposition that each of our companies is ‘Best Alone,’ but we are collaboratively ‘Better Together.’ To advance our collaborative offering, we tapped into our own strong talent base to create two new roles. Lee Aldridge moved from Landor to become global brand officer, helping us shape and build our brand through thought leadership strategies and programs. Celia Berk moved from Burson-Marsteller to Y&R Brands as chief talent officer to help us recruit, retain and nurture a new generation of talent able to work across disciplines and geography.

We expect that the marketplace in 2009 will continue to be uncertain and volatile. We are ready to support our clients through these difficult times. Young & Rubicam Brands has more than simply an integrated offering; we are rooted in a collaborative culture that ensures that our clients are getting the most appropriate and most powerful combination of marketing communications resources, talent and work. We are committed to helping our clients meet their challenges and find their opportunities in today’s marketplace.