Businessweek Archives

Publicis is Restructuring


In this week’s upcoming issue I’ve written a story about Kevin Roberts, the CEO of ad agency Saatchi & Saatchi, and how he’s struggling to prepare his agency for the future. While reporting the story, Roberts’ boss Maurice Levy (the CEO of Publicis Groupe) gave us some news: Publicis Groupe is planning a dramatic restructuring. Levy plans to centralize all accounting and administrative at Publicis, and consolidate his agencies’ work onto one profit-and-loss statement for each client.

Here’s the interesting part: each client will have just one senior account person across all the agencies, and everyone else who works on the brand — be they media buyers at Starcom, or creatives at Saatchi or Leo Burnett — will report to that person. He or she will be chosen centrally by Publicis, and can come from any type of agency. There’s just one rule: “It has to be the person who best understands the brand,” says Levy. “The media agency [or, he added later, the digital agency] has exactly the same merit as the creative agency to lead the client.”

This type of “re-bundling” is becoming the trend. This week’s AdAge has Procter & Gamble trying out similar structures for some of their brands at all four of the major holding companies. Publicis Groupe announced last week that it has already taken a step in this direction with the reorganization at Leo Burnett that it’s calling “The Insight Factory.”

Also, I hope you enjoy the story in the magazine. We wanted to take a look at the stresses facing the CEO of one of the big Madison Avenue ad agencies. I settled on Saatchi because it’s one of the Mad Ave’s strongest right now, both financially and creatively (It didn’t hurt, either, that Kevin Roberts is quite a character). But as you’ll see, there are still a vast array of threats facing him, and it’s getting tougher every day to get his agency into the growing parts of the ad business.


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