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Publicis North America

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Publicis Worldwide consolidated its interests in the US and Canada in 2013 under a newly created Publicis North America operating unit. The French agency has steadily built its presence in the region through a series of acquisitions. The main agency remains Publicis USA, with several offices across the nation; Riney in San Francisco (formerly Publicis & Hal Riney) retains separate branding, although since 2008 it has reported into the main centralised management structure. In summer 2012, the New York office of Publicis merged with stablemate Kaplan Thaler to form Publicis Kaplan Thaler. More recently, Dallas-based database marketing agency Hawkeye joined the portfolio in 2014 under the new name of Publicis Hawkeye. What was once a small roster of specialist marketing satellites has now mostly been reintegrated into the main agency.

Clients

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Competitors

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Contact

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Brands & Activities

Publicis continues to hold its own in the US market, and has steadily improved its reputation by bolstering the creative department with several talented players. The agency's integrated offering is especially strong, supported by two top-notch multicultural agencies as well as the resources of digital and direct agency Publicis Modem/Publicis Dialog. After a string of serious account losses in 2006, notably flagship clients Sprint and HP, Publicis & Hal Riney clawed its way back from the precipice during 2007, but its position as a standalone unit has been under threat since the death of its founder and patriarch in 2008.

The Publicis Worldwide network has several operating businesses in the US. The main advertising unit comprises three main regional agencies. Flagship shop Publicis New York was merged in summer 2012 with formerly standalone group subsidiary Kaplan Thaler, under the latter's senior leadership team, to form Publicis Kaplan Thaler. It retained that name for three years before reverting once again to Publicis New York in 2015. It is partnered by Publicis in Mid America which has offices in Dallas and Indianapolis (a Chicago office was closed in 2002, and its accounts shifted to New York); and Publicis West, based in Seattle. Team Oral-B was established in 2007 in New York as a specialised integrated unit to handle that oral care account for P&G. A fourth agency, originally Publicis & Hal Riney, now just Riney, is a full-service shop based in San Francisco. It was brought under the wing of the main Publicis USA reporting structure in 2008.

In 2012, the group acquired luxury specialist AR New York, which retains its existing name. However it now operates from the same building as Publicis New York. In 2014, the group acquired Dallas-based promotional and database marketing agency Hawkeye for an undisclosed sum. It now operates as Publicis Hawkeye.

Several other units have been shuttered. The group's traditional advertising function was previously supported by integrated marketing agency Publicis Modem, which had three offices across the nation at the beginning of 2011 in New York, San Francisco and Norwalk CT. It was formed in 2007 from the combination of the original Publicis Dialog direct marketing unit with interactive agency Modem Media. Gradually, though, those units have been integrated into the main local Publicis agency. Multicultural specialist Publicis Sanchez & Levitan was folded into part-owned Hispanic agency Bromley Communications in 2004. However that business closed its doors in 2015. The group still has a 49% shareholding in Burrell Communications, an agency which specialises in the African-American market.

Advertising Age estimated US advertising revenues for Publicis Worldwide of $454m in 2014, or 26% of a global total of $1.7bn. For 2015, AdAge estimated USA revenues of $488m.

Publicis Canada has offices in Toronto, Calgary, Windsor and Montreal. Until recently, some of these operations were run as a partnership with group chairman Yves Gougoux, who held a minority stake in the Publicis Canada business as well as 100% of Montreal affiliate BCP, originally the country's first Francophone agency when it launched in 1963. Gougoux surrendered his shares to Publicis Groupe in 2013, but remains group chairman.

Background

Publicis's first steps into the US market came in 1980 when it opened an office under its acquired Intermarco brand to offer local representation for a few of its French clients. That unit adopted the Publicis name in 1987 but remained very small. In 1988, however, Publicis agreed the formation of a substantial joint venture with leading US agency FCB. Although the main focus of the alliance was in Europe, FCB also agreed to represent Publicis in the US. However, the relationship grew increasingly stormy, and this turbulence came to a head in 1993, when Publicis agreed to acquire smaller European network FCA. A key part of FCA was its New York outpost, Bloom/FCA, which had been founded in 1952 as the Bloom Agency. By the 1980s, Bob Bloom, the founder's son, had become chairman and CEO, and it was he who had negotiated the partnership arrangement with FCA in Europe. But under the terms of the original FCB/Publicis deal, both sides had agreed not to compete in the other's home territory. FCB regarded the purchase of Bloom as part of FCA as a violation of this agreement, and the war of words rolled on for several years before being finalized in a divorce in 1996.

In the meantime, Publicis began to add to its US business. The Bloom agency was extracted from the rest of FCA to become Publicis/Bloom. It brought with it an office in Dallas, and Publicis began to add further assets to the portfolio. In 1998, the agency acquired Seattle-based advertising and PR firm Evans Group, as well as highly regarded San Francisco agency Hal Riney & Partners. The latter had been formed in 1977, originally as the San Francisco office of Ogilvy & Mather. CEO Hal Riney bought the business out in 1985 to create Hal Riney & Partners. The addition of these two companies, with billings of over $1bn between them, made Publicis one of the US's top 15 agencies by 1998. In 1999 the company acquired a 49% stake in Burrell Communications, one of the biggest US agencies specialising in the African American market, founded in 1971 by Thomas Burrell. At the start of 2000, the French group added promotions agency Frankel & Co. for around $170m (it was later merged into Arc Worldwide).

In early 2001, the group acquired a 49% stake in Hispanic agency Sanchez & Levitan in Miami. At the same time the latter acquired the Dallas and Los Angeles offices of Interpublic subsidiary Siboney USA. The renamed Publicis Sanchez & Levitan was later folded into Bromley Communications. In 2003, following the closure of the D'Arcy network, Publicis took over most of that agency's US accounts, although some business was transferred into Saatchi USA, and the General Motors account was transferred into a separate standalone entity, reporting to Leo Burnett.

Publicis & Hal Riney had some trouble hanging onto CEOs later in the 2000s. Kristi Vandenbosch was appointed to that role in 2009, becoming the agency's third president & CEO in three years. She was in turn succeeded by Harold Sogard in 2011, and then by Kevin Roddy in 2013.

Last full revision 8th June 2016

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