Arthur Sadoun Officially Introduces Publicis Communications via Internal Memo

By Patrick Coffee 

As we all learned just about a month ago, The Publicis Groupe followed a disappointing financial performance in the first three quarters of 2015 with a moment of introspection and a new plan to avoid the sorts of roadblocks that have hobbled the holding company in recent years.

In his ongoing efforts to destroy all silos everywhere forever, Maurice Levy told the world that Publicis would split into separate units in 2016: Publicis Sapient would handle digital and consulting work as the ultimate product of the two parties’ merger plans; Publicis Healthcare would do its fairly self-explanatory job under the leadership of Nick Colucci; Zenith Optimedia CEO Steve King would direct the company’s media-buying and strategy wing; Arthur Sadoun, picked to manage PR giant MSLGroup last summer, would now lead all comms and creative shops as head of Publicis Communications.

On this, the first working day of 2016, Sadoun sent what appears to be a company-wide memo summarizing the first month or so in the life of the newly-launched “solutions hub.”


Subject: Another name change? “Publicis Communications.”

Now, over the next 12 months, with the birth of Publicis Communications, we will be starting on a new journey, one that will bring its own unique challenges and opportunities.

For the past five weeks we’ve been working with the heads of all the Groupe creative brands to define how we should work better together, what Publicis Communications should stand for and how to ensure that it doesn’t become another corporate layer but a support structure for all of our individual networks. We’ll be meeting with our global management teams in New York next week to finalise our action plan. I’ll then get back to you with a clear set of objectives and concrete measures to achieve them.

For the past two years we’ve been on a great adventure together, and I’m incredibly proud to be by your side as we progress to its latest, most exciting stage. We’ve already achieved some great things, and I know that the best is still to come.

Très bonne année à tous.

This note doesn’t tell us much of anything at all, so it’s useful primarily as a preview of Sadoun’s leadership style.

Some could certainly read the phrases “action plan” and “concrete measures” as hints of changes to come at the agencies affected (Leo Burnett, Publicis, Saatchi & Saatchi, BBH, MSLGroup and tech/design consultancy Nurun). It seems Levy has tasked Sadoun with reducing budgets and eliminating silos all over the PC network while avoiding–as completely as possible–the bureaucracy that so often comes with such organizational changes.

The next few weeks will tell us whether recent rounds of pre-holiday layoffs at Publicis New York and MSLGroup, along with an ongoing series of management changes at the latter organization and consolidation moves within the Leo Burnett network, will be a sign of things to come for PG agencies in 2016.

As Levy himself put it in December, it will be “extremely difficult for [clients] to reduce their marketing budgets” moving forward–but that certainly looks like a big part of the ultimate goal.