Walgreens Selects WPP for Global Account

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Walgreen's Manhattan Beach, Calif., store.
Walgreen's Manhattan Beach, Calif., store. Credit: Walgreen's

After a year of review, drugstore giant Walgreens Boots Alliance has chosen WPP to handle its global advertising account. The Deerfield, Ill.-based chain will work with Team WBA, a bespoke selection of WPP agencies on its marketing and communications for all its businesses, including retail, wholesale, health and beauty.

Team WBA becomes only the latest of WPP's dedicated agency teams for clients, which also include Global Team Blue for Ford and Team Arrow Partners, the holding company's GroupM agency for Target. Major marketers are increasingly commanding custom collections of talent and capabilities from the holding companies that have swallowed up much of the agency landscape, forcing sibling shops to collaborate in new, deeper ways.

A WPP spokesman declined to comment on the specific agencies involved in Team WBA.

"We have grown rapidly, so too have our marketing and communications needs, and this multi-dimensional model and new way of working will better support our vision for the company and future growth plans," said Stefano Pessina, executive vice chairman and CEO of Walgreens, in a statement. "This more integrated way of working will help us to strengthen brand recognition, while unlocking potential synergies, creating increased efficiencies and helping streamline our activities globally."

In 2015, Walgreens spent more than $557 million on advertising, according to Ad Age's Datacenter.

Team WBA, staffed by WPP employees in Chicago, London and New York, will provide a comprehensive array of services, including traditional and digital advertising, media investment management, promotion marketing, public affairs and media relations. In 2015, Walgreens reported $103 billion in sales, a 35% increase over 2014.

"Team WBA will be a custom solution that draws together the talent and resources from across WPP to develop effective communications that will differentiate WBA and drive results," said Sir Martin Sorrell, chief executive of $19 billion-WPP, in a statement.

The news comes one day after Walgreens announced it is reducing what it hopes to pay for rival drug-store chain Rite Aid Corp. Walgreens said it will now pay $6.8 billion for Rite Aid, $2 billion less than initially proposed. The two companies have spent more than a year vying for anti-trust approval of their merger.

Contributing: Lindsay Stein

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