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Publicis Worldwide (France)

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Publicis Worldwide is the name of the biggest advertising network within the expanded Publicis Groupe, which also houses the Saatchi & Saatchi and Leo Burnett networks. Originally founded just after the Second World War by entrepreneur Marcel Bleustein, the agency was one of the first in France to diversify into areas such as market research and multimedia. It began to establish an international presence in the 1960s, and steadily climbed the worldwide rankings over the next five decades through a series of canny acquisitions, and by absorbing several important outposts in the former D'Arcy Worldwide network. Despite occasionally brilliant work from its flagship outpost in Paris, the rest of the Publicis Worldwide network has generally followed a more straightforward creative path than the other major networks within the wider Publicis Groupe, though there have been signs of improvement since the appointment of a new global creative chief in 2016. Though it retains separate network branding, Publicis Worldwide is now grouped alongside its multiple sister networks within umbrella entity Publicis Communications, and many smaller regional offices are being merged with local outposts of Saatchi and Burnett under the banner Publicis One.


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Publicis is the most recent newcomer to the upper tiers of global agency networks, having aggressively expanded its international presence in a comparatively short space of time, mostly through acquisition. As a result, however, local agencies still vary quite widely in strength and consistency and the network has arguably still yet to prove itself as a cohesive whole, especially for non-French-speaking clients. It also suffers in this respect from a degree of confusion with its same-named parent group.

Publicis is among the leaders in several major European markets, but ranks in the middle or lower tiers in others, and has traditionally been at its weakest in Latin America and Asia Pacific. (It has attempted to address these issues through aggressive acquisition). French clients make up a significant proportion of its global client list, although it has also demonstrated its ability to serve other multinationals effectively, not least Procter & Gamble and Nestle, two key global clients. Heineken was an important additional to the global portfolio in 2015. The network's creative reputation is generally good or fair rather than great, although output has improved significantly since 2016. Publicis Conseil in Paris is considered to be the network's most creative outpost.

For several years, Publicis Worldwide positioned itself as the agency network offering "The Holistic Difference", claiming to be more willing than others to help clients and more aggressive in going after market share. More recently in 2010 it adopted a new positioning statement, as the agency creating "contagious ideas that change the conversation". Two years later the slogan became "Lead the change". A new logo was unveiled in 2015, based on the original design commissioned by founder Marcel Bleustein-Blanchet.

Publicis Worldwide now claims a network of 330 offices in 110 countries, though that includes a number of affiliate-only units in Africa. Advertising Age estimated worldwide advertising revenues of almost $1.21bn in 2018, of which $331m (or 21%) was generated in the US. The key shop in the network is the flagship Publicis Conseil in Paris, followed by Publicis USA, Publicis Germany, Publicis London and Publicis Milan.

In France, the flagship Paris agency operates under the name Publicis Conseil. It also serves as the umbrella for several satellite units. Publicis EtNous and Publicis 133 are more specialised subsidiary units handling luxury goods brands. Publicis EtNous was originally created in 1993, specifically to handle the Hermes brand, still its biggest client. These two units were joined from summer 2014 by La Maison, an intriguing three-way partnership between Publicis, luxury publisher Conde Nast's brand content division and Google that also incorporates New York creative boutique aR. Chemistry (known until 2015 as Publicis K1) is a dedicated CRM unit handling a small number of major clients; K4 is another specialised agency created in 2009 to handle the consolidated Carrefour account. Marcel is another separately branded creative boutique in Paris, now establishing its own international network. The Groupe's healthcare agency Publicis Lifebrands also has an outpost in France, and it also has a number of other units operating across six cities in regional France under the umbrella title of Publicis Activ.

For 2016, Strategies reported revenues of €319m for Publicis Conseil, €63m for Publicis Activ, €42m for Publicis Eto, €39m for Marcel, €37m for Publicis Consultants, €24m for Publicis Events, €20m for Publicis Lifebrands and €19m for Publicis K1.

In 2006, Publicis strengthened its operations in neighbouring Belgium with the acquisition of Duval Guillaume, the country's biggest independent advertising marketing services agency. The agency continued to operate under its own name until 2017 when it was merged into the main Publicis Belgium office. Publicis Italia added creative consultancy Independent Ideas at the end of 2017. In 2012, Publicis agreed terms to acquire the controlling shareholding in German digital group Pixelpark, which also owns the Elephant Seven and Yellow Tomato brands. That business was absorbed into the Publicis Worldwide network. In 2013, Publicis Worldwide in Germany and Pixelpark merged as a single entity, Publicis Pixelpark, now with seven offices across the country. In the Netherlands, the local office of Publicis is partnered by retail marketing specialist Found.

The group has a presence throughout Asia, with major hubs in China, India, Korea and Australia. In the latter market it acquired local agency Mojo, later Publicis Mojo, from FCB in 1997. The Mojo name was finally dropped in 2015 in favour of Publicis Australia. In India the group strengthened its presence in 2007 with the purchase of a majority stake in regional agency Capital advertising, based in Delhi, later Publicis Capital. Other units included Publicis Ambience, operating multiple offices around the country. All local units were merged in 2016 as Publicis India. In 2007, the group closed its Japanese outpost, and transferred staff and clients into the Beacon Communications joint venture. There are shared group outposts in some other markets also, such as across Scandinavia, where Publicis and Leo Burnett are both represented by local agencies X2M and Skandaali. Publicis Worldwide has a presence in China, but operations there are smaller than those of sisters Saatchi and Leo Burnett. However in 2010, the group acquired Chinese agency G4 and merged it with the Beijing office of Publicis. Subsequent acquisitions have included digital agency Goyme.

In Latin America, the network was strengthened considerably with the absorption of local units of D'Arcy, including the main Salles Norton business. The latter shop was broken up with part of its absorbed into Publicis Brazil and the rest into standalone unit Salles Chemistri. Those two agencies were later combined to form Publicis Salles Chemistri. Several additional purchases have carved out a substantial position for Publicis in Brazil. In 2010, the group paid a sum rumoured to be as much as $110m to acquire an initial 49% shareholding in admired Brazilian group Talent Communicao, whose Talent and QG agencies also joined the Publicis Worldwide network. Talent was realigned in 2015 to become the local office of satellite network Marcel in Brazil. In 2011, the network also acquired another local legend, DPZ, which was merged in 2015 with rival taterka, in which Publicis had also acquired shares, to form DPZ&T. It continues to opeate as a standalone agency under the overall Publicis Worldwide umbrella. Yet another acquisition was digital agency AG2, subsequently aligned with Publicis Modem, and then rebranded again in 2015 to become AG2 Nurun. The main Publicis-branded business was the local #5 agency in 2016 according to researcher IBOPE, with billings of R$3.21bn. Talent was #9 with R$2.68bn and DPZ #13 at R$1.94bn.

Africa has been another focus for dramatic expansion through acquisition. The group has boosted what was once a very minor presence in that continent through two key deals. In 2014, it acquired South African CRM agency Machine, merged into the existing Publicis agency to become Publicis Machine. That was followed a year later by what was then said to be the biggest ever ad industry deal, the purchase of promotions marketer The Creative Counsel for approx 1bn South African Rand (about $75m). Founded in 2001, TCC was South Africa's largest independent marketing services agency, with 1,500 staff and turnover of over R700m. As a result of these and other deals, and affiliate relationships with more than 40 independent agencies across the continent, Publicis Africa Group is now the biggest marketing group in sub-Saharan Africa.

In the Middle East, the network is represented by part-owned Publicis Graphics, which operates offices in 10 cities in the region from its base in Beirut.

Publicis Modem and Publicis Dialog were traditionally the group's direct and digital marketing brands, operating under a single management team. However, both brands have been gradually phased out, with digital and direct operations absorbed into the main agency in several countries. The network's digital operations were further strengthened in 2014 with the addition of Montreal-based Nurun, and its offices in San Francisco, Madrid and Shanghai. Several outposts of Nurun were hived off into the Razorfish network; others, including the last major office of Publicis Modem in Paris, were rebranded as Publicis Nurun. Publicis Entertainment operates in larger markets, developing branded content.

Under the new Publicis Communications structure introduced in 2016, Publicis Worldwide works cheek-by-jowl with all the Groupe's other creative agencies, not just in advertising, but also other disciplines, such as PR network MSLGroup. In less significant advertising markets, all Publicis Communications units are increasingly represented by a single merged Publicis One office.


[see Publicis Group profile for more history]. The French advertising agency took its first steps outside its home country in 1957, opening a New York office. Always one to stay ahead of the competition, Publicis created France's first TV commercial in 1968 (for Boursin cheese), and formed multimedia company SGIP (later Publicis Technology) in 1973. During the 1970s the company set about building up a network of agencies throughout Europe, acquiring Dutch group Intermarco from Philips in 1972 and Switzerland's Farner Group the following year. The two companies were merged as Intermarco/Farner in 1974. In 1978, the group acquired UK agency McCormick (becoming McCormick Intermarco-Farner). Finally all the group's agencies were rebranded as Publicis in 1984. That year Maurice Levy became chairman of the group's Paris flagship, Publicis Conseil. Also in 1988, Publicis's policy of international expansion peaked with a wide-ranging alliance with US agency Foote Cone & Belding, later dissolved. In 1991 Publicis bolstered its UK operation with the buyout of local agency Geers Gross.

In 1995, the agency formed a strategic alliance with newly formed UK agency M&C Saatchi, serving as the international network for the British agency's newly captured British Airways account. The following year, Publicis embarked on a round of global acquisition, buying agencies in Canada, Mexico and Brazil; then in 1997 in Singapore, the Philippines, Indonesia, Korea, Israel, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. In 1998, outposts were established in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Argentina and Chile, bringing the group's total coverage to 64 countries. Most importantly for Publicis, however, it acquired two important US agencies - Hal Riney with billings of some $700m, and the Evans Group, worth some $350m in billings per annum.

In 2000, Publicis finally established a Japanese base by forging a strategic affiliation with Hakuhodo. The Japanese agency turned down Publicis's offer to acquire an equity stake but was more than happy to take on the the local Renault account which transferred out of Dentsu as soon as the Publicis deal was confirmed. (That arrangement was later rescinded following the link-up with Dentsu via Bcom3). The deals carried on into 2001 as Publicis announced the acquisition of Triangle, the UK's biggest independent marketing communications group, and US Hispanic agency Sanchez & Levitan as well as two regional offices belonging to Siboney.

The dismantling of the D'Arcy network in 2003 enhanced Publicis Worldwide's standing in several markets. In Italy the local outpost of Publicis was merged with BGS D'Arcy, while Publicis New York tripled its size with contributions from D'Arcy as well as the former Publicis Chicago office. There were also significant benefits from merger with D'Arcy in China, Taiwan, India, the Philippines and Brazil.

There was a change of senior management at Publicis Worldwide in 2011. Richard Pinder had headed the network since 2006, with the title of chief operating officer rather than CEO, presumably to differentiate him from Publicis Groupe CEO Maurice Levy. In 2009, he took over full responsibility for the advertising network when Olivier Fleurot, previously executive chairman of Publicis Worldwide, transferred to the group's PR and event management divisions. However Pinder too moved on in Spring 2011. In his place, Jean-Yves Naouri, also group chief operating officer, was named as the network's new executive chairman. However, the rising power within the agency has been Arthur Sadoun. He was poached from TBWA in 2006 to become chairman of the main Publicis Conseil agency in Paris, replacing Christophe Lambert who had quit the group to set up an independent agency with creative duo Fred & Farid. Sadoun took over control of the rest of the Publicis network in France in 2009 following the resignation of Philippe Lentschener. Two years later, he was named as worldwide president, reporting to newly appointed executive chairman Jean-Yves Naouri, and was finally appointed as global CEO in 2013.

Last full revision 5th September 2018

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