'No brand will be disappearing': Arthur Sadoun on Publicis Communications

Arthur Sadoun, the chief executive of Publicis Communications, has rejected suggestions that he may reduce the number of brands within the creative agency collective.

Arthur Sadoun
Arthur Sadoun

He was speaking to Campaign ahead of his speech at the two-day meeting of the group’s global leaders in New York that started today.

There had been suggestions that Publicis Communications may consolidate the number of agency brands within the collective, but Sadoun said: "It’s exactly the opposite, I want to accelerate the brands.

"The creative brands are my first assets. There will be no brand disappearing. I want my brands to be strong. I am not going to reduce the number."

He added: "I am committed to breaking the silo. But it’s critical that we keep the creative culture of each of our brands. We have to find the right balance."

The big three global brands for Publicis Communications are Saatchi & Saatchi, Leo Burnett and Publicis Worldwide. Sadoun said he was going to "push very hard" on Fallon in North America and continue Marcel’s evolution to a global brand, adding the creative agency is already strong in Mexico, Brazil, Australia and its home France. Bartle Bogle Hegarty is also part of the group, although it is an exceptional case due to a ten-year agreement put in place during its sale to Publicis Groupe in 2012.

From network to country P&Ls

One of the biggest shifts to come from the creation of Publicis Communications in January was in how the individual agencies report their financial performance. To incentivise different agencies to properly collaborate, Publicis Communications moved from agency networks reporting on a global P&L to different agencies reporting together on a country level. 

In the UK, for example, all the agencies in Publicis Communications report their performance as a collective through CEO Robert Senior. Mexico, Germany and Australia have also already been reporting in this way.

Publicis Communications will now roll out this approach across its global markets, most imminently in France and the US.

Sadoun said: "We are in a business that has been evolving incredibly fast. But if you look at the way our group is structured [from a financial perspective], the way it is structured today is the same as it was 30 years ago. We are breaking the mould here, we are shifting away from a network P&L to a country P&L." 

He added that this integrated way of working was the future, and that the group had to remove any barriers such as financial silos. "It’s the only way to bring the best of our services to our clients," he said.

The vision

In its first nine months, Publicis Communications’ global wins include P&G Dish Care, GSK, Walmart and Hewlett Packard Enterprise. 

Sadoun credited the wins to the group’s new structure, which allows it to create personalised teams for clients.

"We have a clear vision – we want to be an indispensible creative partner for our clients' transformation," he said. "If we are serious about that we need to make sure we have a model and a process to make sure we are offering intelligence (data), creativity and technology."

To reward those who have helped secure this new business, Sadoun also announced a series of promotions at the meeting today. These are a mix of a new tier of management added to Publicis Communications and changes at an agency level.

The UK winners include Saatchi & Saatchi’s Kate Stanners, who adds the global chairwoman title to her existing global chief creative officer role. She effectively replaces Kevin Roberts who resigned last month as executive chairman and head coach, after a furore over his controversial remarks on gender diversity. 

Justin Billingsley, Saatchis' global chief operating officer, will become Publicis Worldwide’s COO for Europe and MEA.

At a global level, Carla Serrano, CEO of Publicis New York, and Bill Kanarick, CSO of Publicis.Sapient, have been promoted to co-chief strategy officers of Publicis Communications. 

Guy Wieynk and Christian Oversohl remain global leads of Sapient Inside. Wieynk represents Publicis Communications (he is chief executive of Western Europe at Publicis Worldwide) while Oversohl represents Publicis.Sapient - he is the agency's European managing director. 

Meanwhile Maurice Lévy has confirmed his retirement date as 20 May 2017, and said the Publicis Groupe board will start discussing his successor in November. Sadoun has been widely tipped as the leading candidate, but others include Alan Herrick, CEO of Publicis.Sapient and Steve King, CEO of Publicis Media.

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