School Report

Change was afoot at Publicis London in 2015. The year began with all the UK agencies moving back to 82 Baker Street as part of an integration ploy. The new chief executive of the group, Guy Wieynk, scrapped separate P&Ls and made two acquisitions, Vivid Brand and August, to give the group greater shopper and content marketing capabilities... Read more

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Agency history

For many years, French agency networks struggled to make an impact on the international stage. Whether it was a cultural disconnect, perceived arrogance, limited experience of handling multinational business or the generally low esteem in which French advertising was held outside its heartland, foreign forays were rarely a case of French without tears.

Which may help explain why the agency that eventually became Publicis London went through so many ups and downs before it cemented its place in the UK ad establishment.

Publicis had taken the first tentative steps outside its own country with the opening of a New York outpost in 1957. But it was not until the 70s that it began establishing a European network, essential if it was going to service the advertisers forming the bedrock of its roster – L'Oréal (a client since 1934), Nestlé (1954) and Renault (1956).

It bought its way into the European market with the acquisition of Intermarco, formed as the Philips in-house agency, and Farner, a leading agency in France and Germany.

The combined Intermarco-Farner subsidiary gave Publicis representation in more than 15 markets and included McCormick Richards, then one of Britain’s fastest-growing shops.

Under Michael Conroy, the charming and eloquent Irishman who became the Publicis UK chairman, it set out to bolster the agency’s UK presence and establish what has been an ongoing custom of constantly broadening its communication offering.

Conroy began the trend when he led negotiations to buy the financially troubled Geers Gross in 1991. The acquisitions have continued steadily since that time with Chemistry, the brand engagement specialist, joining the fold in 2011 and the digital agency Poke in 2013.

As for the main agency, for a long time bedevilled by revolving-door management, creative output has been somewhat hit-and-miss. Even so, its famous “Papa and Nicole” campaign for the Renault Clio and, more recently, its introduction of Brian the robot for are testament to Publicis London’s talent for producing big, populist campaigns.

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