WPP Combines Communications Agencies BCW and Hill & Knowlton to Create Burson

The newly formed Burson will have more than 6,000 employees in 43 markets worldwide.

WPP has merged its two largest communications agencies, Hill & Knowlton and BCW, to form Burson. The merged company will be a full-service communications agency focused on building and protecting reputation, WPP said.

Corey duBrowa, currently global CEO of BCW, has been named global CEO of Burson and AnnaMaria DeSalva, currently global chairman and CEO of Hill & Knowlton, has been named global chairman of Burson.

Together, they will oversee agency strategy, client service, employee experience and culture. Burson will be operational from 1 July 2024, and its new brand will be unveiled later this year.


 

The newly formed Burson will have more than 6,000 employees in 43 markets worldwide. WPP said the name honors the late Harold Burson, a pioneer and founding figure of modern public relations and strategic communications.

“Harold Burson believed strongly that actions are stronger than words, and he established honesty, transparency, integrity and excellence as the guiding principles of his business,” said duBrowa.

“Those principles are the foundational ideals of Burson, upon which we will set the bar for modern communications through our AI-first innovation pipeline. Together as Burson, we will bring insights, expert strategic counsel and technology solutions into a higher value offering for our clients to help them innovate and lead in today’s complex operating environment.”

DeSalva added: “The combination of Hill & Knowlton and BCW is highly synergistic, creating a premier partner for business leaders who are focused on commercial growth, risk management, and reputational capital.”


 

“Our body of work increasingly demonstrates that strategic communication, elevated by creativity, is a primary force for sustainable value creation. By accelerating our transformation through this combination, we will enable the investments in talent and technology that advance communications leadership when it has never mattered more.”

WPP said that Burson’s leadership team will comprise a cohort of top-tier former chief communications officers and other experienced agency senior executives from both companies, with appointments to be announced throughout 2024 as the integration progresses.

Hill & Knowlton brings significant business momentum, talent and innovation into the new Burson entity. The brand will operate within Burson serving a select group of clients globally through strategic communications, advisory and public affairs services.

GCI Health and AxiCom will continue to operate as brands within Burson, offering specialised healthcare and technology communications expertise, respectively, at scale.

“Hill & Knowlton and BCW are two high-performing businesses with complementary strengths, shared ambitions and many shared clients,” said Mark Read, CEO of WPP.

“I am delighted to see the Burson brand brought back to unite them. The new agency will be the standard bearer as the most modern, strategic, technology-driven, full-service communications offer in the industry.”

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