Publicis Groupe has forced its way into the top ranks of the world's leading marketing organisations through a string of canny and transformational acquisitions. Having learned painful lessons from a disastrous alliance with FCB during the 1990s, CEO Maurice Levy's acquisition of Saatchi & Saatchi in 2000 proved far more harmonious. Even more impressive was the agreed takeover of Leo Burnett two years later. Other jewels in the Publicis crown include multi-hub creative networks Bartle Bogle Hegarty, wholly owned since 2012, and Fallon. After a shaky start, Publicis has shown itself to be a worthy rival to established giants WPP and Omnicom. The group is especially strong in digital marketing. It acquired US-based Digitas in 2006, and broadened that network's footprint significantly. A deal to acquire rival digital agency Razorfish in 2009 allowed Publicis to overtake Interpublic as the world's third largest marketing services group. A series of further small and medium-sized acquisitions followed between 2010 and 2012, capped in July 2013 by what was intended to be CEO Maurice Levy's crowning glory, a transformational deal whereby Publicis and larger rival Omnicom would merge to create the world's #1 marketing services giant. Despite securing most regulatory approvals, the deal eventually foundered on disagreements over the final structure of a combined group and was called off in May 2014. Instead, Levy unveiled a new deal a few months later with an agreement to acquire digital group Sapient for $3.7bn.
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Adbrands Weekly Update 8th Dec 2016: Ad industry ethics came under the regulatory spotlight yet again this week following confirmation of an investigation by the US Justice Department into allegations that the major groups "rigged" new business pitches to favour their own inhouse production networks. According to evidence seen by the WSJ, selected unnamed agencies sought written cost estimates from independent production companies for work in order "to create a paper trail that justified to the advertiser its decision to award the project to an in-house facility, which provided a rival bid at a lower price". All the major groups now have their own inhouse global production networks, including WPP's Hogarth and Townhouse, Omnicom's eg+ and Publicis Groupe's Prodigious, as do many larger standalone agencies. Interpublic, Omnicom, WPP and Publicis all subsequently confirmed that certain unnamed subsidiary agencies had received subpoenas in connection with the investigation.
Adbrands Weekly Update 3rd Nov 2016: Former Starcom MediaVest chief and Publicis Groupe chief revenue officer Laura Desmond has officially stepped down from the group. She has been on a six-month sabbatical since June for family health reasons. "This sabbatical allowed me to consider where my greatest entrepreneurial and leadership opportunity existed," she said in a statement. "After thoughtful reflection and discussions with [Publicis CEO] Maurice [Levy] I have concluded this is the right step for me. I leave the Groupe with nothing but thanks and appreciation for the opportunities and support I’ve received throughout my career and during my leave." Chief strategy officer Rishad Tobaccowala, who had been managing Desmond's duties on an interim basis, will add them permanently to his portfolio.
Adbrands Weekly Update 20th Oct 2016: Publicis Groupe reported grim figures for 3Q. Organic growth for 3Q was a horrendous 0.2%, dragging down the YTD to 1.9%. Reported revenues slipped slightly year-on-year to E2.32bn. The weakest region was North America, down 4% organic in the wake of last year's "mediapalooza" review frenzy, and CEO Maurice Levy warned that 4Q results would be similarly affected. However, Asia Pacific was also down slightly, with the full impact of those two regions's declines offset by a solid 7.6% lift across Europe, and an even better 13.% (albeit from a low base) in Latin America. Levy promised that the benefits of the group's silo-busting "Power of One" reconfiguration would become evident in 2017.
Adbrands Weekly Update 29th Sep 2016: In the continuing consolidation of Publicis Groupe's creative agencies under the Publicis Communications umbrella, several new appointments and promotions were announced. As was already becoming clear, the main thrust is to blur lines between individual agency brands, and streamline those individual agencies' existing management teams. Under the new Publicis Communications structure, all subsidiary agencies will become part of a single shared P&L on a country-by-country basis. Yet Publicis Communications CEO Arthur Sadoun reiterated an earlier promise that no brands would be eliminated. He told Campaign, "The creative brands are my first assets. There will be no brand disappearing. I want my brands to be strong. I am not going to reduce the number.” In the latest promotions, Carla Serrano, currently CEO Publicis New York, and Publicis.Sapient chief strategy officer Bill Kanarick have added additional duties as co-chief strategy officers of the global Publicis Communications umbrella. At the same time, Publicis Worldwide North America CEO Andrew Bruce moves up to CEO of Publicis Communications North America, overseeing all creative agency brands in that region, alongside Saatchi exec Kurt Ritter as chairman. Loris Nold and Justin Billingsley were appointed as global co-COOs . Nold will oversee Asia, the Middle East & Africa, while Billingsley manages Latin America and Europe. Within individual networks, Saatchi & Saatchi global chief creative officer Kate Stanners was promoted to global chairwoman of that network, working alongside CEO Robert Senior. Leo Burnett Canada's CEO & CCO Judy John was promoted to chief creative officer, Burnett North America, alongside her Canadian colleague Brent Nelsen, now chief strategic officer, North America. Publicis Conseil's CEO Valerie Henaff was promoted to global president of the Publicis Worldwide network, below CEO Arthur Sadoun.
Adbrands Weekly Update 21st Jul 2016: Publicis Groupe claimed a satisfactory end to the first half, with digital gains offsetting the impact of media accounts lost last year. Organic growth for 2Q was 2.7%, slightly below the first quarter, giving an average of 2.6% for the half. The biggest negative came from North America, with an organic decline of 0.1%. However that was countered by strong growth in Europe (up 7.3%), Asia Pacific (up 5.5%), and a welcome rebound in Latin America (up 4.8%) following the dismal first quarter. On a reported basis, 2Q revenues rose just under 1% to E2.46bn. However, it isn't all plain sailing. "After this particularly active and productive first half-year, we expect the third quarter to be more difficult due to the full impact of the account losses of 2015," warned CEO Maurice Levy. The Groupe reported net income up 5% for the first half at E381m.
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