Publicis Groupe Announces Another Restructuring on the Media Side

By Patrick Coffee Comment

After a string of global and national media reviews that broke the wrong way, Publicis Groupe has announced yet another restructuring.

This time, all the changes will occur within Publicis Media Solutions, one of the four “hubs” created when Maurice Levy announced the first big change late last year.

The details are somewhat confusing–but according to statements provided to Adweek, the six agencies previously operating under the Media Solutions umbrella will now be four: Starcom and Zenith will be separate entities while MediaVest and Spark will combine to form another new agency unit…as will Optimedia and Blue 449. The global leaders of these respective operations will be Starcom USA CEO Lisa Donohue, former CEO of ZenithOptimedia Italia Vittorio Bonori, MediaVest USA CEO Brian Terkelsen and Andras Vigh, global CEO of Blue 449, which was described as “Zenith Optimedia’s open source network.”

The entity formerly known as Starcom MediaVest will cease to exist as we knew it…as may the digital-first agencies MRY and Moxie. (Sources tell us MRY is still operating as usual, but Publicis did not include those agencies in any of its related statements today.)

For insiders, this looks like a further consolidation of power for Zenith CEO Steve King, who competed against Starcom MediaVest Group CEO Laura Desmond to become the top executive within the North American media wing of the holding company.

Many industry observers thought Desmond might head the group, but Levy appointed King to lead global media operations last December. Zenith Optimedia and Starcom MediaVest Group had often found themselves competing for top status on the Publicis media ladder–but while Desmond retains the chief revenue officer title for the larger Publicis Groupe organization, this latest move effectively pushes her further outside its inner circle.

The official announcement follows Starcom MediaVest’s own internal restructuring in which more than 80 employees were laid off following the losses of the Coca-Cola, Walmart and Mondelez accounts.

Maurice Levy’s statement today confirms that Steve King is now the most powerful person on the media side of Publicis. Levy said, “The new Publicis Media imagined by Steve King is fully equipped to fit the future and best serve our clients. A leaner and simpler structure will bring more value to our clients and will further accelerate our growth.”

The new structure (which establishes seven “centralized ‘global practices'” resources available to each of the four new agencies) effectively serves to help the holding company compete in the 2016 TV upfronts/newfronts, which will take place throughout the next two months.

Expect more executive-level changes to come from Publicis Groupe following today’s vague announcements.

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