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. Another jewel in the Publicis crown is multi-hub creative network Bartle Bogle Hegarty, wholly owned since 2012. 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 slumped dramatically following the collapse of the Omnicom deal, prompting a mammoth structural reorganisation during 2016. It fell to Levy's successor as CEO, former creative chief Arthur Sadoun, to restore Publicis to solid growth. That has been a slow and difficult process, complicated by the Covid pandemic. Instead, the Groupe has continued to feed topline growth with further acquisitions. In 2019, Publicis announced its biggest ever, agreeing to pay $3.95bn for US data and CRM giant Epsilon. In Q1 2021, it finally returned to organic growth for the first time since mid-2019. Net revenues for 2020 were €9.7bn, with net income of €576m.
Capsule checked 30th April 2021
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Publicis Groupe's Quarterly Organic Growth since 2016 (subscribers only)
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Historical profile information for Publicis Groupe
Adbrands Update 3rd Jul 2021: Publicis Groupe stole a march on rival groups by agreeing a significant deal with TikTok to become the social media platform's ecommerce partner. In return, Publicis clients will have exclusive advance access to new shopping features and products on TikTok's "Community Commerce" program during the holiday season before they are offered to other companies. The social platform already has a separate partnership with WPP to develop training and data systems.
Adbrands Update 22nd Jul 2021: Publicis Groupe joined its US rivals in reporting a strong rebound in 2Q 2021. Organic growth came in at 17.1%, lifting reported net revenues to €2.54bn. Like Interpublic yesterday, that represents a best-ever topline figure for the second quarter (though the reported numbers have been boosted since 2019 by the addition of Epsilon). Europe enjoyed the strongest rebound at 23.0% - France and Italy both exceeded 30% - while the US came in at 15.2%. Publicis said its Epsilon and Sapient units did best of all at 31.1% and 27.0% respectively. Publicis doesn't report quarterly profit, but net income for the half was €414m, compared to €136m in H1 2020 and €345m for H1 2021.
Adbrands Update 27th Apr 2021: Auto giant Stellantis, formed from the merger of PSA and FCA, consolidated its global media business with Publicis Groupe following a review. It's a big victory for the French company, whose Starcom already managed FCA Group in North America. The outgoing PSA agency - WPP's Mediacom - will be licking its wounds over the loss of roughly $1.1bn of spend in Europe. Combined spend for the two groups is around $2.4bn annually.
Adbrands Daily Update 15th Apr 2021: Publicis Groupe was first out of the gates with results for Q1 2021, reporting its first positive organic growth since mid-2019. The full year uplift was 2.8%, which represents the Groupe's best quarterly performance since - astonishingly - the same quarter in 2016, five whole years ago. Performance would have been better still without non-core operations like Le Drugstore retail outlet in Paris and French transport media division Mediatransports, which dragged down results in Europe, from 2.8% growth to -1.8% decline. The key market of the US was the main engine for growth, up 5.1%. Also up strongly were Germany (6.0%), France excluding the two afore-mentioned businesses (4.9%) and China (3.0%). However, the UK was still weak at -3.4%. Reported revenues came in at €2.4bn.
Adbrands Daily Update 12th Feb 2021: Publicis Groupe unveiled a bold new project in the US which brings together creative talent from across all its various local agencies. Based in New York, Le Truc - "truc" (prounced "trook") is French slang for "a thing, a whatchamacallit" - is described as a centre for creative excellence for clients. The Group's global chief strategy officer Carla Serrano was named as president, and Neil Heymann - former CCO of Droga5 - was appointed as one of four creative leaders of the entity alongside another new recruit, former Ogilvy NY ECD Bastien Baumann, and Leo Burnett's Liz Taylor and Publicis NY's Andy Bird. "Le Truc's nimble, fluid talent model brings together the best minds and offerings," said Serrano, "ensuring clients get curated teams while delivering more enriching and diverse experiences for our people." The new unit will also drawn on expertise of the Groupe's other New York agencies including Digitas, Razorfish, Rokkan, Saatchi & Saatchi and Publicis Media.
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