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Dedicated team at WPP to help craft WBA message

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DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens Boots Alliance has selected a dedicated agency team at WPP, the world’s largest marketing and advertising agency, to handle its global marketing and communications ­account.

The drug store operator will work with Team WBA, a bespoke team of WPP agencies assigned to handle the retailer’s traditional and digital advertising, media buying and public ­relations.

“We have grown rapidly, so too have our marketing and communications needs, and this multidimensional model and new way of working will better support our vision for the company and future growth plans,” said Stefano Pessina, WBA’s executive vice chairman and chief executive officer. “This more integrated way of working will help us to strengthen brand recognition while unlocking potential synergies, creating increased efficiencies and helping streamline our activities globally.”

The new partnership, announced January 31, comes after a review process that lasted nearly a year. WPP pledged to set up hub offices for Team WBA in Chicago, London and New York to support WBA’s businesses and brands, which include Walgreens and Duane Reade drug stores in the United States and Boots pharmacy, health and beauty stores in the United Kingdom.

WBA’s wholesale operations include Alliance Healthcare, which distributes pharmaceutical, medical and health care products in Europe. WBA‘s leading health and beauty brands include No7, Botanics, Liz Earle and Soap & Glory.

“We look forward to partnering with Walgreens Boots Alliance to help further enhance what are already iconic brands in the health and well-being category,” said Sir Martin Sorrell, CEO of WPP. “Team WBA will be a custom solution that draws together the talent and resources from across WPP to develop effective communications that will differentiate WBA and drive results.”

The partnership comes as WBA continues to engage with the Federal Trade Commission to gain regulatory approval of its Rite Aid Corp. acquisition, a buyout that would make Walgreens the largest U.S. drug chain, with roughly 12,700 stores (pending divestitures).

WBA in recent years has worked to realize synergies from the integration of Walgreen Co. and Alliance Boots GmbH, the merger of the largest drug store chains in Europe and the United States that closed in late 2014 and established what the companies called the world’s first “global pharmacy-led health and well-being enterprise.”

WBA now encompasses more than 13,200 stores in 11 countries and has more than 390 distribution centers delivering to more than 230,000 pharmacies, doctors, health centers and hospitals annually in more than 20 countries. The company, which in March 2013 formed a long-term partnership with drug distributor AmerisourceBergen Corp., is also one of the world’s largest buyers of prescription drugs and other health and wellness products.


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