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Marketing giant WPP merges its two largest communications agencies

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WPP, the world’s largest advertising firm, is merging its BCW and Hill & Knowlton subsidiaries into a single business unit.

The new unit will come online at the start of June under the name Burson. It will employ about 600 employees led by CEO Corey duBrowa, who currently holds the same position at BCW, and Hill & Knowlton chair AnnaMaria DeSalva.

BCW and Hill & Knowlton are both communications agencies that help corporate clients secure media coverage. Between them, they have a presence in 43 markets worldwide.

Though the combined business unit will operate under the Burson name, WPP plans to retain some existing brands. Notably, Hill & Knowlton will continue to operate under the Burson umbrella with a focus on “serving a select group of clients.” BCW’s GCI Health and AxiCom business units, which provide PR services to clients in the healthcare and tech sectors, respectively, will likewise retain their branding.

WPP plans to build out Burson’s management team in phases over the coming months. The firm said that the business unit will be led by “a cohort of top-tier former chief communications officers and other experienced agency senior executives” from both BCW and Hill & Knowlton. Burson will inherent its predecessor firms’ client roster, which includes more than half of the Fortune 100 as well as numerous other brands. 

WPP CEO Mark Read remarked that “Hill & Knowlton and BCW are two high-performing businesses with complementary strengths, shared ambitions and many shared clients. I am delighted to see the Burson brand brought back to unite them.”

WPP owns hundreds of marketing firms worldwide that are active in areas such as PR, product design and digital advertising. Those agencies generated combined revenue of $18.8 billion in the company’s most recent fiscal year ended June 30, 2023.