Steve Barrett
Oct 29, 2020

WPP fends off Publicis to retain $600 million Walgreens Boots Alliance account

The integrated account encompasses PR, advertising and marketing and runs until 2022, with an option to extend until 2024.

Boots pharmaceutical store  at Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok (2018)
Boots pharmaceutical store at Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok (2018)
Walgreens Boots Alliance has extended its relationship with WPP as its global marketing and communications AOR.

Under a WBA Partnership structure, WPP will work with WBA to implement its integrated marketing and reputation-management strategy.

WBA’s SVP, global CMO and chief customer officer of Walgreens Vineet Mehra and global CCO and SVP at Walgreens Boots Alliance Aaron Radelet co-chaired the procurement-driven process.

Radelet told PRWeek: “WPP has been our agency of record for the past three years. We’ve been very pleased with them increasing overall support and bringing more talent to the team. We’re thrilled to be able to build on that momentum to meet the needs of our customers and patients.”

He added that he was impressed by what all the agencies brought to the table and grateful for the efforts of the other contenders in the process.

On the communications front, WBA will draw from best-in-class offerings across WPP’s Ogilvy, Hill+Knowlton Strategies, BCW, GCI and Finsbury agency brands.

The agencies will operate under one P&L to address all of WBA's needs, regardless of which specific WPP firm is providing services.

On the marketing side, the pharmacy retail chain will pull from the resources of VMLY&R, MediaCom, Berlin Cameron, Hogarth, Essence Global and Wunderman Thompson

WPP was first appointed in 2017 as WBA’s global marketing and communications agency. This extension follows a six-month review initiated in May and will extend until the end of 2022, with an option to further extend until the end of 2024.

The holding company will support WBA with a team from across its agencies, co-located with WBA teams around the world.

WPP will also leverage WBA’s recently announced strategic partnership with Microsoft and Adobe to create personalized, omnichannel healthcare and shopping experiences at scale.

Incumbent WPP faced off with Publicis Groupe in the last part of the review - it is understood that Omnicom participated in an earlier stage.

Walgreens Boots Alliance owns the pharmacy chains Walgreens in the US and Boots in the UK. In Asia, WBA runs nearly 300 Boots pharmacies in Thailand. It is a Fortune 20 company and the US generates about three-quarters of global sales. The U.K. represents 10% and the remainder is chiefly spread across the rest of Europe.

WBA spent $585 million on advertising in 2019 compared with $665 million in 2018 and $571 million in 2017, according to its annual report.

In a statement, WPP CEO Mark Read said, “We are very proud to have been entrusted with such an important partnership for Walgreens Boots Alliance and its iconic brands. WBA is at the forefront of the industry in utilizing data to provide enriched, personalized customer experiences. We look forward to working very closely with WBA on the company’s ongoing transformation.” 

WPP releases its Q3 financial results Thursday morning.



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