Publicis Groupe Makes Agency Buys in Palestine, Israel

Part of Middle East expansion

Publicis Groupe has made two significant moves in the Middle East. The Paris-based holding company is the first international communications group to enter the Palestinian market through the purchase of a 20 percent stake in Ramallah-based Zoom Advertising. In addition, Publicis said it acquired Israeli ad agency network BBR Group, a company it has been affiliated with since 1995 through its collaboration with Publicis units Saatchi & Saatchi and ZenithOptimedia.  

BBR Group, with 220 employees, is also the parent company of other agency brands including creative agencies Regev Kavitzky and Expert; TV content agency C; and media agency Smart Media. The company’s clients include DeLak Motors; cable TV concern Hot; banking entity Isracard; Procter & Gamble; food and beverage company Strauss; and retailer Super Pharm. All of the agencies will remain autonomous and independently managed.

BBR’s founder and chairman, Yoram Baumann, has been named country chairman for Publicis Groupe in Israel, which has more than 400 staffers in 23 offices. The French company already operates Publicis Geller Nessis, Edologic and Superpush in the country along with networks like Saatchi, ZenithOptimedia, Leo Burnett and Publicis Worldwide.

Under the terms of agreement with Zoom, Publicis may increase its stake in the future. The agency was founded in 2004 and works for marketers like the Bank of Palestine, the Paltel Group, the Palestine Exchange, Coca-Cola, the European Union, Unicef, Unrwa, Peugeot, Cairo-Amman Bank and the new Palestinian-planned city Rawabi. The 23-person agency will continue to be run by its current executive team, general manager Firas Awad and managing partner Jane Masri. The agency will be renamed Publicis Zoom and will be aligned with the Publicis Worldwide global agency network.

Terms of the deals were not disclosed; the acquisition of the stake in Zoom is still subject to the approval of local authorities.

Publicis Groupe chief Maurice Lévy, who was in Ramallah to sign the Zoom agreement, said that while serving the company’s marketers in the region was a key consideration for the deal, expanding Publicis operations in the Mideast has larger significance. “Symbolically, this speaks to every man’s dream of seeing peace in the Middle East and between the Palestinian and Israeli peoples,” he said in a statement. “Moreover, it is also a call to French and international companies to set up in the region and to contribute to creating the economic development without which there can be no durable peace.” 

Publicis has been expanding its presence in the Middle East with agencies in the UAE, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.