Publicis is thumbing its nose at True North by acquiring an agency right
on the doorstep of its worldwide partner in the US.
The French network’s aquisition of a 70 per cent stake in BCP, Canada’s
seventh-largest agency, is a significant move in its go-it-alone bid for
global status and the firmest indication yet that its alliance with True
North is damaged beyond repair.
From its confident beginning in 1989, the relationship with the Foote
Cone Belding holding company has deteriorated into little more than a
marriage of convenience.
The alliance was formally ended in March, although the groups remain
linked through their European operations.
However, Publicis, which fell out with its partner over the aquisition
of agencies in each other’s territory, says it is now free to buy
agencies where and when it wishes, regardless of whether True North
Maurice Levy, the Publicis chairman, who has made little secret of his
dislike for his True North counterpart, Bruce Mason, this week boasted
that the BCP acquisition gave the network a direct presence throughout
He said: ‘This structure will serve as a solid launching pad for our
continuing expansion in North America.’
The Canadian move follows the Publicis group’s takeover of Mexico’s
Romero agency, as well as the acquisition of the Norton agency in
A senior Publicis executive said: ‘We intend to become a global
operation. We now have the North American Free Trade Area covered and
you can be sure that there will be more acquisitions.’
Meanwhile, True North has no option but to continue its joint venture
with Publicis, which makes 40 per cent of True North’s annual profits.