Although it maintains a lower profile than some of its peers, Publicis has steadily developed a reputation as one London's foremost agencies. The local office is now one of the Publicis Worldwide network's main hubs, and a key contributor to global new business pitches. Performance within the main agency has been quite mercurial since the mid 2000s, partly the result perhaps of the continuing consolidation of the parent Groupe's various agency networks. Certainly Publicis London sought to bolster its wider offering through a string of acquisitions in the 2010s including CRM agency Chemistry, digital shop Poke, shopper unit Vivid and content developer August. Yet the consolidation process has soldiered on since then. Chemistry was merged into the local arm of Digitas in 2017, and Vivid into a Groupe-wide activation unit under the Arc banner. At the same time, the growing importance of the wider Publicis Communications umbrella over subsidiary agency brands has prompted a certain level of management turbulence. Local group CEO Guy Wienyk and chairman Karen Buchanan both departed in 2018 and were not replaced, removing a management layer between Publicis London chief executive (and Poke co-founder) Nick Farnhill and Groupe UK country manager Annette King. As had seemed increasingly inevitable, both Poke and Arc were merged into the main Publicis London agency mid 2019 to create a single unit, now known as Publicis.Poke, still overseen by Poke's Farnhill. His co-founder Nik Roope was initially named as creative chairman but announced his departure in summer 2019. Dave Monk is ECD. Nielsen (for Campaign) estimated billings of £192m in 2018, placing Publicis London as the UK's #12 agency. Publicis Ltd, which includes the main agency, Poke and August, reported revenues of £36m for 2017.
Capsule checked 7th June 2019
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Adbrands Daily Update 9th Jun 2019: The rolling consolidation of the various agencies under Publicis Groupe's global umbrella continued, with the merger of Publicis London with its activation satellite Arc and digital agency Poke. The latter's management team retain the upper hand in the resulting combination: Poke's Nick Farnhill remains CEO of the newly created Publicis.Poke, with co-founder Nik Roope as creative chairman. Dave Monk remains ECD in the enlarged agency.
Adbrands Weekly Update 15th Nov 2018: Publicis Worldwide announced the departure of UK and Western Europe CEO Guy Wienyk after four years at the network. He will not be directly replaced. The gradual consolidation of Publicis Groupe is eliminating many of the boundaries between individual networks, so Publicis London's chief executive Nick Fairhill will now report to Publicis Groupe UK country manager Annette King.
Adbrands Weekly Update 5th July 2018: Ads of the Week: "What We Make". Well, well, well. We weren't expecting this. Here's a really superb spot from Publicis London for British supermarket Morrisons, the smallest of the country's Big Four grocers. In some respects, it might actually be one of the best ads we've ever seen for any supermarket in its stripped-down simplicity and its emotional impact. It also highlights Morrisons' main USP over its rivals: the store still produces, processes and packs most of its fresh food inhouse rather than farm it out to third-party suppliers. In the South of England, many shoppers still tend to look down on Morrisons because of its Northern roots, and instead favour local heroes Sainsbury's and Tesco. This ad should make many of those supermarket snobs think twice about that view.
Adbrands Weekly Update 12th October 2017: Ads of the Week: "Those Few People". Something really quite unusual here from Publicis London for Nescafe. The idea and the build-up is fascinating - how about those signs for audience groups that don't get a spotlight close-up like "Owe You Money" and "Haters"! But unfortunately, like an extravagant cinematic souffle, the whole thing rather collapses in the final 30 seconds. What was looking like something rather out of the ordinary turns into just another coffee ad where we all just sit around and have a nice chat. And what a cheapskate! The special people in his life and all he serves is Nescafe? Couldn't he at least have stretched to Nespresso?
Adbrands Weekly Update 6th Apr 2017: A High Court judge found in favour of the former shareholders of London-based CRM agency Kitcatt Nohr Alexander Shaw in their suit against Publicis Groupe. He awarded the claimants compensation of £2.6m - about £1m less than they had asked for - but has yet to rule on costs. If these are also awarded in favour of the claimants it could cost Publicis up to another £2m. KNAS was acquired by Publicis in 2011 and merged with the local office of Digitas. The partners said they were not informed at the time of the deal that Digitas UK was not only heavily reliant on revenues from key client P&G, but also that those accounts were expected to transfer to other agencies within the group. The subsequent loss of that business severely impacted on their earn-out. "It could all have been so different," commented Paul Kitcatt. "Publicis depends on absorbing new creative agencies into its network. They need the new blood to keep their network alive. Yet they show no creativity in their business practices. If they had come clean at first about the threat from the ad agencies, we could have defended the business. If they had cut a new deal quickly and stuck to it, we could have focused on winning new business, not on endless finicky negotiations with shadowy figures in Paris. And if, all else having failed, they had made us a decent, honourable offer to settle this case, we would not have endured months of legal arguments, and a great deal of expense."
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