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 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. However, the group's performance has remained under-par since the collapse of that Omincom deal, prompting a mammoth structural reorganisation during 2016. Now it falls to Levy's successor as CEO, former creative chief Arthur Sadoun, to restore Publicis to solid growth.
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Adbrands Weekly Update 19th Jul 2018: Publicis Groupe had an even tougher quarter than Omnicom, despite multiple account gains. Revenues of €2.2bn represented an organic decline of 2.1%, the first negative from the group in five quarters, reducing the year-to-date figure to negative 0.4%. Net income for the half-year was also down sharply - by more than a fifth - to €301m. All three of the group's main operating regions reported organic declines in 2Q: down 3.6% in Europe, down 2.3% in North America and down 2.1% in Asia Pacific. The two remaining regions of Latin America and Middle East & Africa both reported increases, but together represent barely 7% of total revenues. CEO Arthur Sadoun cited uncertainty regarding GDPR data privacy implementation in Europe and a sharp decline in performance by the out-sourced sales unit within Publicis Health USA.
Adbrands Weekly Update 14th Jun 2018: Yes, Cinderella, you shall go to the Ball! A year ago, Publicis Groupe's new CEO Arthur Sadoun shocked his employees and the industry at large by stating the group would not participate in any awards events for a full year, including Cannes 2018, in order to focus its attention on the development of a new internal management system, Marcel. What a difference a year makes. With the 2018 festival due to start this weekend, It has been revealed that almost 400 campaigns created by Groupe companies are under consideration this year, and more than 80 staff will attend, including Sadoun himself. Was it all just a publicity stunt? "Absolument non!" says Publicis. It claims to have stuck to its own "strict rules" for non-involvement, and says it has not to submitted any work on its own behalf (apart for a single campaign by BBH on behalf of victims of London's Grenfell Tower disaster). Instead all submissions have been made and paid for by clients and partners. Around 25 key leaders have also been invited to attend by clients, and another 20 or so will be there on Publicis's ticket to protect their own clients from the rapacious attention of rival agencies. Some 15 other staff couldn't live a year without the Gutter Bar and are paying for themselves. Cannes' owner Ascential also sneakily bypassed the moratorium by inviting several senior Publicis Groupe managers (including Sadoun) to appear at the event as speakers or jury members and also curried favour by offering a platform for a live presentation of the Marcel system onstage.
Adbrands Weekly Update 17th May 2018: With all figures now in, here's the final standing for 1Q. IPG leads with 3.6% organic growth, followed by Omnicom (2.4%), Dentsu (2.1%), Publicis (1.6%), MDC Partners (1.0%), WPP net sales (negative 0.1%) and Havas (negative 1.7%).
Adbrands Weekly Update 26th Apr 2018: Publicis Groupe reported improved performance for 1Q, well above analysts' expectations, but a mild disappointment after the group's strong end to last year and still some way behind US rival Omnicom. Currencies caused reported revenues to decline year-on-year to almost €2.3bn, or a little under €2.1bn excluding pass-through costs. However organic growth excluding currencies and M&A was 1.6%, much better than the year-ago decline, but below 4Q 2017's 2.2% lift. There was solid growth in North America, up 2.8%, undercut by flat performance of 0.3% in Europe. Declines in Germany and Italy were offset by growth in the UK and France. Asia Pacific fell 4.6%, with a shock 11.6% slump in Australia as a result of the loss of a key Qantas contract. Latin America was up strongly at 11.5% but the figures are only small, representing less than 4% of total revenues.
Adbrands Weekly Update 15th Mar 2018: It took a few months but Arthur Sadoun's reinvigoration of Publicis Groupe is now delivering consistent results, forcing sceptics - and we were among them - to eat their doubts. There were two more major new business wins this week. Mondelez appointed the Groupe's Spark Foundry network to take charge of North American media, with support on digital from VaynerMedia. The business represents a substantial loss for incumbent Carat. The rest of Mondelez' global media account is still in review. Separately, Campbell Soup Company consolidated virtually its entire global marketing account with the Groupe this week. Publicis will take over creative, media, digital and consumer promotion duties for soups, sauces and beverages in North America, and all Campbell Arnott's operations in Australasia and South East Asia. Only Pepperidge Farm and Campbell Fresh in the US are excluded from the creative and digital brief, as are market regions China and Latin America. The appointment marks yet another major loss for WPP's Wavemaker media network - predecessor agency MEC had been the incumbent media shop - and also for BBDO, which had handled most creative. MDC's Anomaly also loses its creative assignment for Campbell's US sauces. Publicis has yet to announce how it will assign duties for the win between its agencies; however the pitch was led by Leo Burnett North America CEO Andrew Swinand.
Adbrands Weekly Update 1st Mar 2018: With all the groups' results in, final scorecard for organic/LFL growth/decline for 4Q is as follows: Interpublic +3.3%, MDC +3.3%, Dentsu 2.8%, Publicis +2.2%, Omnicom +1.6%, WPP revenues +1.2%, WPP net ex pass-throughs -1.3%, Havas -2.1%. For the year, MDC +7.0%, Omnicom +3.0%, Interpublic +1.8%, Publicis +0.8%, Dentsu 0.1%, WPP revenues -0.3%, Havas -0.8%, WPP net ex pass-throughs -0.9%.
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