WPP’s digital marketing consultancy Switched On to merge into AKQA

WPP AUNZ has announced that digital marketing and media consultancy, Switched On, will be merging into the Australia arm of experience design agency AKQA.

Switched On will continue to be led by managing director, Chris Hitchcock, who will be joining the AKQA executive team and reporting to Asia Pacific managing partner Brian Vella.

Both agency brands will continue, while Switched On is integrated into the AKQA team, and it will transition to the AKQA brand in the future.

Switched On MD Chris Hitchcock (L) will join the executive team and report to AKQA managing partner Brian Vella (R)

According to WPP, the merger has come about as a result of increasing client demand for “comprehensive digital solutions that help define, find, connect and inspire customers across all brand interactions.”

It is the latest of a string of mergers within WPP. In May 2017, The White Agency merged with Grey Group Australia to create White Grey. In September 2018 Y&R and VML were merged to create VMLY&R, and a month later WPP announced it was merging JWT and Wunderman to create Wunderman Thompson.

In May, WPP AUNZ announced it had appointed Jens Monsees as the Australia and New Zealand CEO,  after Mike Connaghan departed the role in October last year.

John Steedman, interim CEO WPP AUNZ, said in a statement: “This is two teams with momentum becoming one, and a bold move by them both. It’s driven by a burning desire to provide pioneering solutions from two highly experienced senior local teams.

“Joining Switched On and AKQA formalises the close working relationship both agencies already have. The partnership uniquely combines media, tech, data and design literally under one roof. The result is a stronger client offering and WPP AUNZ is proud to support them.”

Together, the agencies will be able to provide clients with a further breadth of services including digital consulting, performance media, creative strategy, CX strategy, experience design, communications planning and CRM, technology and engineering, commerce and influencer marketing, the holding group said.

AKQA’s Vella said: “This initiative is a terrific example of our team’s growth mindset and a shared vision of the future. Both agencies are at the top of their game. It’s a powerful combination that offers a modern, post-broadcast perspective to the interface of customer and brand.

“AKQA Media is widely regarded as one of the world’s premier media and technology agencies, something we believe will resonate well with Australian marketers.”

Switched On’s Hitchcock added: “As the worlds of marketing, technology, and customer experience converge, it’s clear a strategic reprioritisation of brand building is essential. We feel what’s needed is a unified proposition that straddles the need to balance this long-term vision with the reality of short-term performance in today’s digital age. That’s why we’ve come together.”


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