WPP to rebrand 12 Red Cell shops

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[London] WPP Group will rebrand up to 12 agencies from its Red Cell network as the Voluntarily United Group, according to executives close to the business. The aim is to pick out the strongest Red Cell shops and create a lean micro-network similar to Bartle Bogle Hegarty and Wieden & Kennedy.

In restructuring a network that has proved unwieldy and inconsistent, the rest of Red Cell's 57 agencies will either be absorbed into local WPP shops or keep the Red Cell name where it is considered an asset and report directly to WPP.

"You just have to look at the performances, the figures and the ads to see that some are great and some are not," said one executive familiar with the matter.

The concept is to bring together a smaller group of like-minded agencies who can work together but are independent. United will include two U.S. offices-Berlin Cameron/Red Cell and Cole & Weber/Red Cell-and, in Europe, HHCL/Red Cell, London; Sra. Rushmore/Red Cell, Barcelona; and Les Ouvriers/Red Cell, Paris. One Latin American shop, WM/Red Cell, Buenos Aires, Argentina, will be part of United, along with agencies in Australia and Scandinavia. Red Cell Duesseldorf is out, as are Asia's 10 Red Cell agencies, now branded Batey/Red Cell.

Red Cell was created five years ago from the Conquest network, and Bates agencies were added when WPP bought Bates' parent Cordiant Communications Group.

The United management team consists of Chairman-CEO Andy Berlin; Charlie Robertson, chief strategy officer; Amanda Walsh, who is CEO of Red Cell Europe, and Laurence Mellman, chief operating officer.

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