VML Absorbs $70 Million Sibling WPP Shop Rockfish

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VML Global CEO Jon Cook
VML Global CEO Jon Cook Credit: VML

VML has absorbed sibling WPP agency Rockfish, a digital innovation shop with ecommerce expertise that generated $70 million in revenue last year, according to the Ad Age Datacenter.

Rockfish CEO Michael Stich and President and Chief Strategy Officer Dawn Maire will immediately become part of the VML Executive Leadership Team. Stich and Maire will also lead the new Rockfish division of VML. Specific titles for Stich and Maire within VML are still being figured out.

Rockfish complements VML by providing "additional depth on the ecommerce part of that connected consumer experience," says VML Global CEO Jon Cook. Also, Rockfish will amplify VML's expertise in loyalty and consumer relationship programs.

The merger will add about 200 staffers to VML's headcount, boosting the shop to more than 3,000 employees across 33 locations worldwide. Some Rockfish clients that will now be under VML include Walmart, Mars, Southwest Airlines and MetroPCS. VML and Rockfish have also collaborated on a number of clients for several years, such as Colgate-Palmolive, Ford and Kimberly-Clark.

This summer, VML, which was No. 5 on Ad Age's 2017 A-List, was named agency of record for Express Inc., focusing on consumer sales optimization, paid media, search and analytics for the 650-unit chain.

Earlier in the year, VML was named agency of record for Russell Stover Chocolates, the largest U.S. manufacturer of boxed chocolates. The new business followed a busy year in 2016, when the agency won lead creative roles on Wendy's, PepsiCo's Brisk Tea, New Balance, Electrolux, Frigidaire, Tyson and Miami tourism.

VML elevated John Godsey and Mike Wente to both serve as chief creative officers for North America in January, allowing Global Chief Creative Officer Debbi Vandeven to focus more on growing the agency's client base worldwide. The agency's 2016 revenue checked in at $320 million, according to the Ad Age Datacenter.

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