WPP retains Walgreens Boots Alliance global, with caveats

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The Walgreens Boots Alliance review has been going on for six whole months. Now, after the final shootout against Publicis Groupe, WPP has held on to the business – but only until the end of 2022, which doesn’t seem much reward for all that work.

There is an “option to extend” for another two years, but that could well mean another few months’ work for WPP to justify that extension, rather than getting on with the job at hand.

WPP will be working on WBA’s global marketing and communications strategy, and has set up a network of dedicated teams to service the business around the world. WPP’s release states: “At the heart of the new partnership model is a data and technology solution that will pair WBA’s rich first-party data set with WPP’s industry-leading martech capabilities.”

WBA – whose first-party data must be very rich indeed, given the nature of its business – recently announced a strategic partnership with Microsoft and Adobe to create personalised, omni-channel healthcare and shopping experiences at scale.

The tech focus of the account will be seen as a big victory for WPP’s future-facing efforts. Publicis, which recently announced that it was putting data-tech platform Epsilon at the centre of its growth strategy, will be very disappointed that the pitch ended this way.

Stefano Pessina, executive vice chairman and CEO of Walgreens Boots Alliance, said, “WBA is transforming our business across every consumer touch point – pharmacy, retail and digital – to provide a modern, differentiated customer experience. We are delighted to continue our partnership with WPP to leverage their creative skills, technology and data insights, as we shape the future of our business together.”

Mark Read, CEO of WPP, 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 utilising data to provide enriched, personalised customer experiences. We look forward to working very closely with WBA on the company’s ongoing transformation.”

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