media update's Adam Wakefield spoke to Robyn de Villiers, chair and CEO of Burson Cohn & Wolfe, about the merger of the two brands, and what the merger means for partner agencies across the continent.

What are the advantages for clients now that Burson-Marsteller and Cohn & Wolfe have merged into Burson Cohn & Wolfe? 

Burson-Marsteller has unmatched strength in public affairs, corporate and crisis management and research. Cohn & Wolfe is well-known for expertise in digitally driven, creative content and integrated communications across the consumer, healthcare and technology sectors.

Together, Burson Cohn & Wolfe is in a unique position to meet clients’ complex needs, desire for more integrated solutions and, more importantly, to make strategic investments in talent and innovative capabilities for the future.

Burson Cohn & Wolfe is led by Chief Executive Officer Donna Imperato, previously CEO of Cohn & Wolfe, who recently said: “The launch of Burson Cohn & Wolfe (BCW) creates a new entity in the world of communications that offers our clients unparalleled, integrated, digital solutions grounded in earned media. We are energised by the fresh offerings we will bring to both our clients and our employees.”

What does the merger mean for partner agencies across the continent?

The merger positions us as the African network to the third largest global PR player, which can only be good news and have positive implications for all agency stakeholders and partners across the continent.

Globally, we also have the benefit of combining two agencies that have a long history of collaboration, so in a way, this is a neat coming together for us.

In Africa, our partnership with Cohn & Wolfe began in the early 1990s, when we formed our first international relationship with GCI, which later merged with Cohn & Wolfe.

Since then we have represented the brand through our wholly owned subsidiary, Cohn & Wolfe Africa. 

We already offer both Burson-Marsteller and Cohn & Wolfe clients an integrated solution with our 'tailored for Africa' approach, which has been tried and tested for more than 25 years.

This approach combines 'best in market' local agency insights and connectivity with full-service market appropriate implementation and seamless project delivery driven out of our Africa hub office in South Africa.

Looking ahead, the merger will allow us to offer our clients and local teams more access to global talent, cutting-edge tools and expertise. We see this firmly as a win-win.

How important is data and analytics to Burson Cohn and Wolfe?

WPP’s decision to merge the two agencies is driven by strong, compatible capabilities and expertise, a combined ability to deliver integrated solutions across multiple sectors and the scale to compete with the largest communications agencies in the world.

Data and analytics is an integral part of the work we do. Both help inform and fuel our offerings, approach and gives us insights to help us best serve our clients.

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Public relations and marketing teams have always worked closely together to achieve their business goals. Find out more in our infographic, Infographic: The blurred line between PR and marketing.