School Reports 2014: Publicis Chemistry


Score: 6  Last year: 6

Last year was one in which Publicis Chemistry was forced to catch its breath and reconfigure itself after the upheavals of 2012, when its chief executive and managing director departed. In what was a turnaround year, Mike Welsh, the current chief executive, not only managed to steady the ship and install a new management team around him, but brought in some significant new business at the same time.

Welsh’s efforts resulted in the hiring of Kevin Allen from Gyro, where he was the global planning director, to become the executive planning director. He was joined by Mark Lindridge, who filled the newly created role of head of effectiveness. The new line-up appears to have had a galvanising effect, most notably in the capture of the £8 million Royal Mail Group direct marketing account. However, Andrew Brooks’ time at the agency was shockingly brief.

Elsewhere, Publicis Chemistry added three further names –, Argos and Garnier – to its client list, while winning extra assignments from Barratt and the dessert brand Gü. At the same time, there was the morale-boosting retention of Visa Europe’s brand-activation business, when the agency saw off Wunderman to maintain its four-year grip on the account. The prize includes the development of a Fifa World Cup brand-activation programme that will run in 20 markets across Europe.

Winning Land Rover UK’s customer-engagement programme would have been the icing on the cake. Alas, that proved a step too far, with Lida getting the nod ahead of Publicis Chemistry and OgilvyOne.

By its own admission, Publicis Chemistry isn’t yet the finished article. Yet the agency can pride itself on not only regaining its equilibrium in 2013, but also laying a solid foundation on which to build.

How Publicis Chemistry rates itself: 7

Publicis Chemistry's year in a Tweet: New clients – Royal Mail, Garnier, and Argos; retention of Visa; more work from Gü and Barratt, and 3 DMA Awards  #turnaround

Publicis Chemistry
Type of agency Customer engagement
Company ownership Publicis Groupe
Key personnel Mike Welsh chief executive
David Prideaux executive creative director
Kevin Allen chief strategic officer
Darren Todhunter chief operating officer
Laura Holme new business director
Declared income £31m
Total accounts at year end 20
Accounts won 4 (biggest: Royal Mail Group)
Accounts lost 0
Number of staff 265 (-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

Footnote: *indicates where agencies claim the corporate governance constraints of the Sarbanes-Oxley legislation.