Diana Bradley
Apr 21, 2024

BCW, Hill & Knowlton warns staffers to brace for layoffs related to Burson merger

The firms have “identified areas in the business where we must eliminate roles, many of which were duplicate,” staffers were told in a memo.

BCW, Hill & Knowlton warns staffers to brace for layoffs related to Burson merger

BCW and Hill & Knowlton warned staffers this week to expect duplicate roles to be eliminated as the two WPP firms merge into a network known as Burson. 

BCW global CEO Corey duBrowa, who will be Burson’s CEO, and H&K global chairman and CEO AnnaMaria DeSalva, who will be chairman of the combined firm, sent a note to staffers Friday morning about the decision.

Since the news about Burson was announced in January, the integration team has been working to “combine our two agencies to best position Burson to be the leader in delivering modern communications at scale to clients. As you can imagine, this is a considerable task, but we are making progress,” the note said. 

DuBrowa and DeSalva said leadership appointments across geographies and functions will be shared over the next several weeks. However, the integration process has required a careful review of the firms’ shared resources and teams as they combine teams. 

“In doing so, we have identified areas in the business where we must eliminate roles, many of which were duplicate,” duBrowa and DeSalva said in the note. “We have been able to place some of these colleagues in new positions, consistent with the commitment we made at the outset to minimize job loss while ensuring we are building strong teams for our clients. Unfortunately, we do have colleagues who will be leaving the business, and you will begin to hear about these departures.”

The firms are providing departing employees with full access to WPP’s recruitment and transition services and information on other job-placement resources.  

Burson will have more than 6,000 employees in 43 markets worldwide, making it one of the few largest firms globally, the firms said this year.

WPP financial communications and capital market advisory firm Buchanan Communications will be a brand within Burson alongside Hill & Knowlton, GCI Health and AxiCom, the agency said this week. 

Curation, Direct Impact, Goodfuse, HZ, Prime Policy Group and Uncapped, which sit under BCW, will continue to operate as brands within Burson. The same goes for the agency brands that sit under Hill & Knowlton, such as 3K, Blanc & Otus, Dewey Square Group, Ideal and JeffreyGroup, said spokespeople from BCW and Hill & Knowlton.

WPP reported 2.4% growth in revenue in its PR division in Q4 2023. The holding company noted that H&K “delivered modest growth lapping strong performance in 2022,” which was “partially offset by a weaker year for BCW. The holding company is set to report its Q1 earnings on April 25.


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