PARIS—Public relations will play a major role in a new global organization developed by holding company Publicis Groupe in partnership with and dedicated solely to General Motors Corporation.
The new agency organization, which has not yet been named, will be headquartered in Detroit, Michigan. Roger Haupt, president & chief operating officer of Publicis Groupe, will become the new organization’s chairman, and Patrick Sherwood, formerly CEO of D’Arcy North America, has been named as its president & chief executive officer.
The public relations component will be led by Mark Hass, whose firm Hass Associates was acquired by Manning Selvage & Lee last year. GM is MS&L’s biggest client.
According to a press release, “The new organization aims to set a standard in client/agency partnership through the creation of a unique marketing services company. There were two principles surrounding the creation of this organization: The new organization will truly be impartial to the marketing solutions for GM business. Disciplines including public relations, advertising, promotion, internet and all other marketing specialties will be led by this new integrated organization.
“The new organization will have a greater depth of creative resources. Creative teams will be dedicated to reaching a more diverse consumer base in innovative ways, integrated across the entire marketing mix.”
MS&L chairman and CEO Lou Capozzi says he believes those two principles will give PR a more central role in the communications mix. “In this set up, public relations can be more involved at the strategy level,” he says. “It’s a model that helps overcome the instinctive partiality to advertising and encourages greater respect for the role public relations can play.”
In addition, he says, the model implicitly recognizes the value that the PR creative department can add to the existing advertising creative.
Capozzi says the model is similar to one already established on behalf of Philips in Europe, which draws on multiple resources from the Publicis empire. “We do global programming, and communications strategy, and then we assign it to agencies in individual markets. Those agencies may be part of the Publicis family or they may be independent firms, if they are better suited to the task.”
According to Haupt, “GM has become an innovative, fast-moving company with highly competitive products. It has partnered with us every step of the way to design a new organization that will reach a diverse consumer through creative marketing solutions.”
The announcement came after Publicis announced that the D’Arcy Worldwide brand, acquired in its merger with Bcom3, would be merged into its other global ad agencies: Publicis Worldwide, Saatchi & Saatchi Worldwide, and Leo Burnett Worldwide “in order to strengthen those networks and to build service capability for its clients.”
It is not clear whether any consolidation of PR brands is planned. In addition to MS&L, Publicis operates Publicis Consultants, Publicis Dialog, and Rowland Worldwide.