Executive Shakeup at Publicis Groupe’s PR Agency MSLGROUP

By Patrick Coffee 

The New York headquarters of Publicis Groupe’s international communications network MSLGROUP parted ways with several senior-level staffers this week in the latest minor shakeup following last summer’s decision to hand the reins of this agency and the larger Publicis Communications unit to worldwide CEO and potential Maurice Levy successor Arthur Sadoun. (Sadoun officially introduced that group, which includes Leo Burnett, BBH, Saatchi & Saatchi and Publicis, via an internal memo in January).

The most prominent news: Managing director Andrew Silver will be leaving the agency after running its New York office for just under two years.

An agency spokesperson wrote: “By mutual agreement, MSLGROUP and Andrew Silver have decided to part ways. We thank Andrew for all he did for the company as Managing Director of our New York office and wish him well in his future endeavors.”


Silver, who joined MSLGROUP after serving as managing director/global client relationship manager at Edelman, held similar positions at Ogilvy PR and ran Edelman’s Shanghai operations but did not leave his current job to accept another position. Moving forward, U.S. CEO Ron Guirguis will effectively fill the MD role in addition to his duties as chief executive.

The spokesperson declined to elaborate further beyond the following statement: “We are making great progress with strong performance from offices across our U.S. network and we are excited about continuing to strengthen our business in New York and invest in our teams and our clients.”

Multiple independent sources did confirm today that several other high-level executives have left MSLGROUP in recent days and weeks, including:

  • North American CFO Maury Shapiro, who went to Cohn & Wolfe
  • North American SVP of Human Resources Tara Lilien
  • Tracy Naden, SVP on the P&G Health account
  • VP of Talent Acquisition Jessica Bayer

Late last year, MSLGROUP settled a class action suit brought by more than 100 female employees based in the Americas for approximately $3 million dollars. Accusations in that suit concerned “pay and pregnancy discrimination,” and the firm released a statement to the effect that “We are pleased to have resolved this matter, avoiding the cost of further litigation.”

Multiple sources tell us that, several months after that suit was settled, Guirguis received some blowback from agency leaders after including the video below in an all-staff email. The clip accompanied a description of the agency’s “Action Plan” for future success, which was based on four stated principles: “Participation, Accountability, Transparency, and Speed.”

Arthur Sadoun’s January note regarding the future of Publicis Communications also included the phrases “action plan” and “concrete measures,” and we hear from multiple sources that Publicis Groupe’s larger strategy moving forward will involve increased attrition across all of its agency networks.

Expect more holding company-wide pay freezes to come.