In a somewhat surprising weekend move that’s now been broadcast everywhere, French advertising network Publicis and New York-based Omnicom Group announced today that they are merging, supplanting London’s WPP to become to world’s largest advertising firm.
The news comes as a bit of a shock, especially considering the announcement was made on a summer weekend. Reports of merger negotiations first happened on Friday afternoon, followed by more concrete details on the merger coming out yesterday via a report from Bloomberg. The newly christened Publicis Omnicom Group will be led by Omnicom CEO John Wren and Publicis CEO Maurice Levy, who will acts as co-chief executives.
The merger is sending shockwaves throughout the industry, with reaction to news quite mixed. While many agree that shareholders will benefit from the news, looming doubts remain about how the new company will strike a balance of power with its bases split between continents, as well as how Publicis Omnicom Group will go about solving the many client conflicts as competing brands (Coca-Cola and Pepsi, McDonald’s and Taco Bell) are brought under one roof.
Omnicom (whose properties include BBDO, DDB, and TBWA) and Publicis (whose properties include Leo Burnett, DigitasLBi, Saatchi & Saatchi and media giant Starcom) have a combined annual revenue of $23 billion. We’ve heard that Levy has sent out a network-wide email about the merger.