J Walter Thompson
James Walter Thompson

WPP chief Mark Read today announced the merger of Wunderman and J. Walter Thompson in a bid to deal with the disruptive wave sweeping over the marketing communications business.

Mel Edwards, CEO of Wunderman, will lead Wunderman Thompson, supported by Tamara Ingram, chief of JWT.

Wunderman Thompson will provide “end-to-end solutions through creative, data commerce, consulting and technology services on a global scale,” according to WPP’s release.

The New York-based entity will launch early next year with 20,000 staffers in 90 markets.

Founded in 1896, JWT is among the oldest names in advertising. It has represented Kraft and Unilever for more than 115 years.

Read, who took over WPP from founder Martin Sorrell, has promised “radical rethinking” to restore momentum to the ad/PR conglomerate.

In September, he announced the merger of Young & Rubicam, another venerable name in advertising, with VML to create VMLY&R with 7,000 employees. Y&R launched in 1923.

Read will update analysts and investors on WPP's strategy in London on Dec. 11.