School Reports 2013: Publicis Chemistry


Score: 6  Last year: too early to score

Just when things were beginning to look stable at Publicis Chemistry after a good 2011, its senior management team decided to leave.

While Publicis Chemistry’s chief executive, Joe Garton, and the managing director, Diane Charlton, always kept a low profile in the industry, their departure in May 2012 came as a surprise, considering that Publicis had acquired their agency, Chemistry, just the year before.

Their departure prompted an immediate restructure, with Publicis Chemistry promoting the managing partner, Mike Welsh, to the role of chief executive. The promotion of Welsh coincided with the departure of the deputy managing director, Jason Foo.

Publicis Chemistry’s management fallout was at least well-timed: it came just after it had won one of the biggest pitches of the year, Everything Everywhere. The £50 million umbrella brand for Orange and T-Mobile consolidated its direct marketing business into Publicis Chemistry (which had worked for Orange) after a pitch against Archibald Ingall Stretton and SapeintNitro. Other new business came from Gatwick Express and Olive Oils from Spain, but were insignificant in comparison with Everything Everywhere.

For the rest of the year, Publicis Chemistry kept its head down and worked on bedding in the new business, while Welsh provided continuity and stability.

Work from the agency remained good throughout the year, with a campaign for the Mondelez International beverage systems brand Tassimo that included personalised "thank you" messages to customers’ friends.

Other notable work included a digital campaign for Gü that featured a chocolate cookbook inviting Gü’s Facebook community to win a personal cooking class with the brand’s head chef.

After the upheavals of 2012, Publicis Chemistry will look for greater stability while continuing to build its business through new-business success.

Publicis Chemistry
Type of agency Integrated digital
Company ownership Publicis Groupe
Key personnel Nigel Jones group UK chairman and chief executive
Mike Welsh chief executive
David Prideaux executive creative director
Darren Todhunter chief operating officer
Declared income £30m
Total accounts at year end 23
Accounts won 3 (biggest: Everything Everywhere)
Accounts lost 1 (Britvic)
Number of staff 280 (-5%)

Score key: 9 Outstanding 8 Excellent 7 Good 6 Satisfactory 5 Adequate 4 Below average 3 Poor 2 A year to forget 1 Survival in question

How Publicis Chemistry rates itself: 7

"It’s hard to believe we’re little over a year old. And what a year: winning the biggest pitch of its kind in over three years with Everything Everywhere; organic growth from clients including SCA (Bodyform, TENA) and Visa (SME). Digital is growing, accounting for over 50% of revenues, and our creative product continues to improve. All whilst transitioning a new management team. Not a bad start, with room for better yet in the year ahead."