Under the Gun to Pay Down Debt, Lévy Cuts Costs

With debt mounting from acquisitions, Publicis Groupe has implemented cost-cutting initiatives across several of its agency networks.

In the latest moves, the Paris-based holding company eliminated two high-level executive positions and initiated a third round of cuts at Fallon in New York.

Joanna Baldwin, an svp in charge of global business development at Publicis Worldwide, left last week, as did Seth Werner, chief creative officer of Publicis in Mid America. Both posts will not be filled.

An 18-year Publicis veteran, Baldwin was responsible for bringing in business from Hewlett-Packard, Allied Domecq, Nestlé, Intel, Ericsson, British Airways—in conjunction with M&C Saatchi—and the highly sought-after European Central Bank launch of the euro currency.

Werner, who oversaw three of Publicis’ offices in the Midwest and Dallas, was let go after 14 years at the agency. With senior creative executives in both Dallas and Chi cago, his post was no longer required, an agency representative said.

Citing reduced client spending, Fallon slashed 31 percent, or 20 staffers, from its New York office, leaving ecd Kevin Roddy as the sole creative and 45 employees under president Alison Burns.

In mid-January, Frankel in Chicago cut 100 staffers due to the loss of its Frito-Lay business and a companywide restructuring.

Despite the parent company’s financial woes, Fallon executives said the agency’s international plans remain on pace to have a network of 8-10 offices by 2005.

Last year, Publicis net debt rose 45 percent to $630 million at the end of June because of acquisitions, according to French brokerage house Aurel Leven.

According to the firm, its long-term debt is likely to reach $1.5 billion by the end of 2002.