Publicis Groupe has a PR problem
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Publicis Groupe has a PR problem

Arun Sudhaman

There has been a lot of talk recently about how spending on PR may be hit harder than advertising - despite earlier signs to the contrary. Most notably, Publicis Groupe global CEO Maurice Levy was unequivocal when he said that PR was the worst performing unit at his company, and he doubted a recovery would materialise until 2010. Which leads us quite nicely to this story I wrote for Media Asia about a possible merger between the two Publicis PR networks: MS&L and Publicis Consultants. Both agencies lack global leadership and are now under the oversight of Publicis Groupe veteran Olivier Fleurot. Of the 'big four' holding companies, Publicis Groupe surely has the weakest PR operation, something that Fleurot was quite candid about when I interviewed him. If they do merge, and I think any decision is some way off, it's not clear that it will suddenly result in a network with critical global mass. They are different shops with different cultures. A Maurice Levy internal memo says that more integration between the two agencies will happen and that makes sense. But a full-blown merger? It is not as if Publicis is the only company that houses PR agencies of indeterminate size, either. Look at all of the holding companies and there are several examples of agencies that could potentially be paired with siblings in the search for cost-savings. Surely any merger, though, has to be about more than cutting costs?
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