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Rolex is taking its advertising in house after having ad holding company WPP handle the business for 74 years, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
They said Rolex is building a custom creative agency in Europe, which means WPP will eventually lose most or all of the business, which one source estimated brings around $30 million in revenue a year to WPP.
A third person said WPP has already started relocating production work on the account, which is currently handled by the New York office of its production division Hogarth, to London.
A Rolex spokeswoman said the privately-held company does not comment on its business decisions. Spokespeople for lead agency Wunderman Thompson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Read more: WPP is combining two more agencies in another sign of consolidation at the world’s biggest ad holding company
Agency J. Walter Thompson first got Rolex as a client in 1946, and the brand became famous for its ads starring athletes, musicians, and actors such as Sean Connery, playing a major role in the James Bond film franchise. WPP acquired JWT in 1987 merged it with Wunderman in 2018 to become Wunderman Thompson.
The agency’s most recent big-budget Rolex campaign aired during the 2020 Oscars and featured several famous directors, including James Cameron and Martin Scorsese.
Brands have been increasingly taking their advertising in house at the expense of traditional ad agencies. Rolex is the latest client to test WPP; Unilever launched a competitive review for its retail and e-commerce ad business in North America earlier this month.SEE ALSO: Ad giant Dentsu explains why it’s emphasizing emotional connections over data to help clients like Microsoft win over customers
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