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 7th Dec 2017: Chip Register, currently co-CEO of Publicis.Sapient, and head of its Sapient Consulting division, is to leave the group at the end of this year to run a non-profit association he co-founded with his wife. Alan Wexler will become sole CEO of Publicis.Sapient. Register's unexpected departure is notable since only a few months ago he was the man tasked with over-seeing the creation of Publicis Groupe's Marcel AI platform, which is due for delivery in May. Publicis has pulled out of all self-promotional activities for the duration of Marcel's gestation, supposedly to free up funds for the project. Publicis said the Marcel platform will now be overseen by group general manager Veronique Weill and chief talent officer Emmanuel André.
Adbrands Weekly Update 19th Oct 2017: Publicis Groupe continues to improve after last year's worrying slump. Reported figures slipped to €2.26bn as a result of exchange rates, but the organic increase ex-currency ex-M&A was 1.2%. That's nowhere near Omnicom, but a marked improvement on Publicis's own last six sets of results. It lifted the YTD figure into positive territory at a modest 0.3%. In the latest quarter, there was negative growth in Europe and Asia Pacific (down 1.5% and 3.1% respectively) but that was offset by a strong rebound in North America, up 3.0%.
Adbrands Weekly Update 12th October 2017: Another week, another set of changes at Publicis Groupe. All the group's data analytics resources are to be combined in a new unit under the name Publicis Spine, led by Starcom president Lisa Donohue. This will become the group's primary engine for analysing consumer data that has either been collected inhouse or acquired from third-party sources. It will also house PeopleCloud, a platform to identify "sources of client growth". Donohue is being replaced at Starcom by John Sheehy, previously president of global clients at Publicis Media. At the same time, the group is moving global network DigitasLBi out of digital division Publicis.Sapient and into Publicis Media. Michael Kahn will take over as global president of DigitasLBi, replacing Nigel Vaz, who remains CEO of Publicis.Sapient in the EMEA and Asia Pacific regions.
Adbrands Weekly Update 28th Sep 2017: An analyst at French investment bank Natixis has identified WPP and Publicis as potential takeover targets because of recent steep falls in their market value. Although he suggests that merger with an existing group is one possibility, a more likely option would be an approach from one of the management consultancies currently pushing into the marketing sector. Accenture, in particular, is a "credible buyer", he wrote in a note to investors. Its market capitalisation of over $90bn is more than five times that of Publicis and almost four times WPP, making any potential deal reasonably affordable.
Adbrands Weekly Update 31st Aug 2017: With all the groups' results in, final scorecard for organic/LFL growth/decline for 2Q is as follows: Omnicom +3.5%, Publicis +0.8%, Interpublic +0.4%, WPP revenues -0.8%, Havas -0.9%, WPP net sales -1.7%, Dentsu -4.8%. Much smaller MDC scored +11.7%.
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