Publicis Groupe announced its Q1 earnings today, reporting a 12.9 percent year-over-year increase in revenue to €1.45 billion (about $1.9 billion). Organic growth was 4.1 percent, down from Q1 2011 when it was 6.5 percent, but up from Q4 2011.
The Specialized Marketing Services (SAMS) group, which houses the company’s PR units like MSLGroup, represented 19 percent of total revenue, down from 21 percent last year.
Publicis has been hinting at making moves in the PR sector for some time, and late yesterday, they did. The agency’s PR holdings – including MS&L Worldwide, Publicis Consultants Worldwide, PublicisLive, Publicis Meetings, Emotion, Freud, and Kekst & Co – will be combined under MS&L and given the name MS&L Group.
The “global entity” will be run by Olivier Fleurot, previously chief executive of the PR and events division at Publicis and now CEO of MS&L Group. Olivier reports directly to Maurice Levy, Chairman and CEO of Publicis Groupe. The new group employs more than 2,500 people in 50 countries.
The re-organization is taking place to better compete with other global agencies, wrote Advertising Age‘s Michael Bush. “Over the past few years in the U.S. market, MS&L, the flagship PR shop under the Publicis umbrella, has been viewed less and less as a serious threat in new-business pitches, especially on global accounts, by many of its larger competitors,” he said.
Bush specifically mentioned Weber Shandwick and Edelman as two main MS&L Group competitors. He also said that Levy once tried to buy this scale, in the form of acquiring Edelman, but the deal never went through. “…depending on who you speak to — [Levy] either had ‘serious conversations’ or made a ‘serious overture’ to Richard Edelman for his agency,” wrote Bush.
Publicis Groupe SA (PUB.FR) reported an organic revenue decline of 7.4% compared to Q3 2008, as part of the company’s Q3 2009 earnings released today.
“I think the fourth quarter will be better than the third, both for Publicis and the market…The recovery will be slow, but all the signs we have are going in the right direction,” Chief Executive Maurice Levysaid on a conference call.
For North America, the company stated, “The positive trend in healthcare and digital communications partially offset the decline in all other areas. A decrease of organic growth of 5.3% for North America represents a strong performance.” Publicis Q3 account wins include ABInbev-Becks, Bristol Myers Squibb, Cadbury, Fiat and Wendy’s.
Olivier Fleurot, chief executive of the PR and events units of Publicis said in late August that the global agency plans to double its PR revenues through acquisitions within the next three years. Levy did not mention any specific acquisition targets on today’s call.
Publicis PR holdings include Manning, Selvage & Lee, Publicis Consultants and Freud Communications. Some have suggested that the company has the weakest PR offerings among the major holding agencies and may be considering merging agencies. The largest of the holding agencies, WPP, reports earnings on Friday.
Olivier Fleurot, chief executive of the PR and events units of Publicis told a Reuters reporter in Shanghai this week that the global agency plans to double its PR revenues through acquisitions within the next three years.
One deal is final because Fleurot went on to say that they acquired one of their China affiliates that will double their headcount there to 300.
Fleurot joined Publicis in 2006 and was upgraded in May of this year upon the departures of Mark Hass and Eric Giuily to head the PR, corporate comm and events management unit, which includes among others, MS&L, Freud, and Publicis Consultants.
Publicis’s spending spree isn’t limited to PR either. The conglomerate already owns interactive shop Digitas, and still plunked down $530 million to buy its competitor Razorfish from Microsoft earlier this month.