Publicis Groupe buys PR agency Taylor Herring

Boutique shop was this year's winner of PR Agency of the Year at Campaign's Agency of the Year Awards.

Publicis Groupe and Taylor Herring (from left): Taylor, Herring, McCafferty, King, Mountstevens
Publicis Groupe and Taylor Herring (from left): Taylor, Herring, McCafferty, King, Mountstevens

Marketing services behemoth Publicis Groupe UK has wholly acquired boutique PR firm Taylor Herring, PRWeek can reveal.

Taylor Herring, which billed £4.7m in fees and employed 25 people in 2020, now joins Publicis’ UK Influence Practice, alongside the larger PR network MSL and ESG specialist Salter Baxter, under the leadership of Chris McCafferty.

McCafferty’s boss and CEO of Publicis Groupe UK, Annette King, will also be planning for Taylor Herring’s much-admired creative firepower to work alongside Publicis’ advertising and media shops as part of this group’s Power of One strategy.

Neither Publicis nor Taylor Herring would comment on the price paid for the Ladbroke Grove-based PR boutique, but PRWeek understands there was a significant cash payment upfront with an earnout period of around four years.

The main equity holders of Taylor Herring were husband and wife team Kath Taylor and James Herring, who set up the firm 19 years ago. Creative partner Pete Mountstevens, who joined in 2003, was also an equity holder, along with a handful of other employees.

All are said to be keen to stay on at Taylor Herring for the long term. The agency’s brand will be carefully protected within the Publicis stable, according to Herring.

Publicis is thought to have first contacted James Herring nearly a year ago, having specifically targeted the firm because of its long-held reputation for creating “brand fame via earned media ideas”. Since then, Taylor Herring has been negotiating the precise terms of the deal.

Publicis Groupe UK has also acquired Taylor Herring’s in-house production company, St. Mark’s Studios. All Taylor Herring employees will move from its West London offices into Publicis’ London HQ by the end of this year.

McCafferty told PRWeek: “Over the last two decades Cath, James and Pete have built an agency that’s helped define disruptive brand PR. Time after time, Taylor Herring’s powerful cultural moments and signature creativity dominate our social feeds and news pages. It’s a truly special agency that I can’t wait to help grow.”

Herring said: “In our first decade we were the entertainment specialists, in our second we turned our attention to consumer brands. As we enter our third decade, we want to take Taylor Herring to the next level.

“The most progressive clients don’t ask for PR ideas or advertising ideas – they ask for brave creativity that delivers results. A lot of our work now is in owned and paid media, so the opportunity to work closely with Publicis Groupe’s iconic agencies and have access to the Groupe’s capabilities is an incredible one. Taylor Herring turns 20 this year and I’m confident with this move, it’s going to be our best year yet.”

Annette King, CEO of Publicis Groupe UK, said: “Clients are looking for transformative creativity that can spark anywhere – whether that’s through advertising, through experiences or in earned or owned media. By injecting a second agency that specialises in ‘earned first creativity’ into our Power of One model, we believe there’s a great opportunity to increase growth for our clients.

"Taylor Herring is the best in the business when it comes to innovative PR campaigns, and a great cultural fit.”

Taylor Herring was founded in 2001 and is one of the most famous agencies in the PR and social media industries in the UK. It has won more PRWeek awards in the last decade than any other agency and was on PRWeek’s Agency of the Decade shortlist in 2019.

The agency has won all the most prestigious awards including Cannes Lions, and D&AD wood and yellow Pencils. It has also been named as Campaign’s PR Agency of the Year twice in the past three years.

Taylor Herring clients include Samsung, Subway, Iceland, easyJet, Kellogg, Disney, UKTV and YouTube.

As well as MSL and Salterbaxter, King said Taylor Herring would work closely with Publicis’ creative agencies Saatchi & Saatchi, Leo Burnett, Digitas, Bartle Bogle Hegarty and others and media agencies including Zenith and Starcom.

Publicis Groupe UK now describes itself as a "marketing and digital transformation business", with 5,000 people working across 22 agencies in total.

Around the world, Publicis Groupe is present in more than 120 countries employing more than 83,000 people. Publicis Groupe is listed on the Paris Stock Exchange.

This story first appeared in PRWeek

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