Dentsu is in advanced talks to merge iProspect and Vizeum in the UK and Ireland to create a single media agency brand.
It is thought that senior leadership at each of the existing agencies have been interviewed for the role to run the merged business, but a decision has not yet been made.
Hamish Nicklin, who joined Dentsu this year as UK and Ireland executive director – media from Guardian Media Group, is overseeing the process, which is part of a wider global restructure.
This began in Australia, where the Vizeum brand was dropped after the agency’s merger with iProspect in August. A Dentsu spokesman said no decision had been finalised over whether the Vizeum brand would remain in the UK.
Campaign understands that Dentsu is also close to securing a replacement for Ruth Stubbs, who left as global president of iProspect in November 2019 to join WPP’s Wavemaker.
A source close to the holding company described the merger as an attempt to “turbocharge” iProspect as a global digital media shop alongside Carat, akin to how WPP integrated offline media planning capabilities into Essence after acquiring the digital agency in 2015.
As well as being a cost-saving move, the merger is seen as strategically beneficial for iProspect, which is a performance media business known for delivering short-term campaigns for brands but faces a “ceiling in conversations with marketers”.
It is thought that, by marrying it with an agency that knows how to deliver brand communications, iProspect will be better-placed to have longer-term and more strategic relationships with brands. Its current client roster has a range of major UK businesses, including Diageo, Mondelez International and Specsavers.
The merger would also mean a single leader for iProspect in the UK, which currently has two chief executives for each of its North and South operations, comprising 600 staff in total. IProspect North (Manchester, Leeds and Newcastle) is led by Steve Buchanan and iProspect South (London and Stafford) is led by James Bailey.
Vizeum, which has been led by chief executive Mike McCoy since 2019, has about 80 staff in the UK, with offices in London and Manchester. It had a mixed new-business performance, according to its latest Campaign School Report, having lost major clients William Hill and TSB, but won nine accounts including WW (won in tandem with iProspect) and Capri-Sun.
A Dentsu UK and Ireland spokesman said: “At Dentsu UK and Ireland, we are continually looking for ways to transform and simplify our business to deliver greater agility, speed to market and increased value for our clients. Our priority is to make it easier for clients to access the best capabilities that Dentsu has to offer.
“As part of this process, we are establishing a unified leadership team that operates across our leading performance media agency, iProspect, and our strategically dynamic media agency, Vizeum. This will bring the complementary disciplines of the two brands closer together, providing clients with fully integrated expertise and services.”
Wendy Clark, former global chief executive of Omnicom's DDB, started as global chief executive of Dentsu International on 1 September.
Dentsu rebranded Dentsu Aegis Network, the operation outside its home market of Japan, as Dentsu International on 28 September.
Dentsu reported a 20% slump in organic revenues in Q2 because of Covid-19.