- Rolex is moving its business away from the ad holding company WPP after 74 years and taking its advertising in house, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
- WPP’s Wunderman Thompson agency handled Rolex, which is known for its ad campaigns starring athletes and actors.
- A Rolex spokeswoman said the private company does not discuss its business decisions. Wunderman Thompson did not respond to a request for comment.
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.
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.