Although it maintains a lower profile than some of its peers, Publicis London 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. However performance within the main agency has slumped somewhat since the mid 2000s, although there have been repeated signs of recovery since 2010. Instead, the group has chosen instead to bolster its wider offering through acquisitions. In 2011, Publicis strengthened its direct and digital offering with the acquisition of acclaimed independent Chemistry, and it is this unit more than the main advertising agency that now tends to dominate the overall group's output. Another bolt-on was Poke, purchased in 2013.
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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."
Adbrands Weekly Update 16th Mar 2017: Publicis Groupe pressed ahead with the steady consolidation of its UK brand portfolio. Digital and direct agencies Chemistry (previously a unit of Publicis Worldwide) and Kittcatt Nohr (a standalone satellite of DigitasLBi) are both to be absorbed into the local arm of DigitasLBi. Most staff will be absorbed into the latter agency, though some will transfer to the Groupe's production network Prodigious and others are already due to shift across to rival Wunderman, which recently won Chemistry's EE account.
Adbrands Weekly Update 16th Feb 2017: Publicis Groupe is embroiled in the UK in an embarrassing lawsuit brought by eight former shareholders of Kitcatt Nohr Alexander Shaw, the digital & CRM agency acquired in 2011 and merged with the local office of Digitas. The claimants, led by Paul Kitcatt and Marc Nohr, are suing Publicis for £4.9m in unpaid earn-outs and £3.6m in damages for breach of contract. The KNAS partners say 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 Publicis. The subsequent loss of that business severely impacted on their earn-out. Publicis is defending the lawsuit. Separately, the steady consolidation of Publicis Groupe's separate agency brands continued, with the merger of the London outpost of shopper marketing agency Saatchi & Saatchi X with its Publicis Worldwide counterpart Vividbrand and Leo Burnett's Arc. The enlarged business will operate under the Arc name, but moves from Leo Burnett's West London offices to Publicis Worldwide's HQ in Baker Street.
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