Y&R London management team out in VML merger

London offshoot of newly merged VMLY&R has named VML staff in the top roles, with uncertainty for Paul Lawson, Jon Burley and Katie Lee.

Y&R London: Burley, Lee and Lawson
Y&R London: Burley, Lee and Lawson

The global VML and Y&R merger has triggered seismic change in the agencies' London leadership, with VML executives installed in the most senior management positions.

Campaign understands that VMLY&R London will be led by Amanda Farmer as managing director, Harsh Kapadia as executive creative director and Andy Ortner as head of strategy.

All three are moving over from the same roles at VML as part of a regime change enacted by new WPP chief executive Mark Read. 

The move leaves an uncertain future for Y&R London chief executive Paul Lawson, chief creative officer Jon Burley and managing director Katie Lee, although they are understood to be in discussions about the possibility of taking other roles within WPP.

The agency will report to VMLY&R Europe chief executive Jon Sharpe. Sharpe was Y&R London boss before being appointed VML Europe chief executive when Lawson arrived in November 2017.

There is one thread of continuity from Y&R London to the new merged shop: chairman Mark Roalfe will remain in that role with a brief to support Kapadia.

Campaign also understands that the run of client losses that began with Y&R London’s previous management troubles is set to continue, as its relationship with the BBC is close to an end. The broadcaster is not expected to retain the agency in its next contractual roster in 2019.

A further change is that VMLY&R will move to new offices in early 2019. Both VML and Y&R are currently based in Greater London House on Hampstead Road.

A UK chief executive may be recruited in due course, but the search is understood not to be imminent.

The wholesale shift in London mirrors the dominance of VML staff at the top of the VMLY&R management line-up, which was announced earlier today. The position of global chief executive has gone to VML’s Jon Cook, with his Y&R counterpart David Sable becoming non-executive chairman and set for an as-yet-undisclosed new role within WPP.

Y&R global president David Patton, who recruited Lawson, Burley and Lee in London, has lost out on the VMLY&R president role to his VML counterpart Eric Campbell. Patton is in discussions about alternative roles in WPP. 

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