NEWS: Publicis founder and adventurer dies

The founder of Publicis and one of the most influential figures in European advertising this century, Marcel Bleustein-Blachet, has died in Paris just a few days before his 90th birthday.

The founder of Publicis and one of the most influential figures in

European advertising this century, Marcel Bleustein-Blachet, has died in

Paris just a few days before his 90th birthday.



An immensely colourful figure who led an action-packed life, he was the

first adman to bring the techniques of Madison Avenue to Paris, and saw

Publicis grow from a start-up in 1926 to become France’s leading agency

network.



He laid the foundations for the close links between French advertising

and politics - his 80th birthday party was attended by a string of

former prime ministers - and he was still working in his office atop the

Publicis headquarters at the head of the Champs Elysees until shortly

before his death.



Twice he brought Publicis back from the brink of catastrophe, first as a

result of the Nazi occupation of France, the second time in 1971 when

the agency’s offices were destroyed by fire.



His death leaves David Ogilvy as the sole survivor of an era of

legendary agency figureheads that included Bill Bernbach and Ted Bates.



However, it is unlikely that Bleustein-Blachet’s passing will

precipitate changes in the ownership or management of Publicis. About 30

per cent of the company is on the stock market and the rest of the

shares are held by a Bleustein-Blachet family trust.



At the same time, Bleustein-Blachet had spent the past 25 years

devolving power to Maurice Levy, the Publicis group chairman who became

known as the ‘dauphin’.



Levy said this week: ‘Marcel made all the arrangements necessary for

Publicis to grow and go from strength to strength.’



Bleustein-Blachet’s story is almost classic rags-to-riches. Born into a

Jewish family in Montmartre, he set up Publicis in two small rooms and

went on to form Radio-Cite, France’s most popular pre-war commercial

station.



Michael Conroy, the Publicis-FCB group chairman in the UK, said: ‘Almost

to the end of his life Marcel was an inspiration to the business. ’



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