Publicis Putting Holistic Approach Into Practice
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Publicis Putting Holistic Approach Into Practice

It was a busy week for Publicis, which added a major new client—the Washington State Lottery—promoted agency veteran Steve Bryant to lead its flagship Seattle office, and moved into a new U.S. headquarters in New York.

Paul Holmes

NEW YORK and SEATTLE, September 7—Remember Young & Rubicam’s “whole egg” approach? How about Ogilvy Orchestration? Like most other attempts to impose “integrated marketing” on advertising agency clients, those two relics of the late 80s and early 90s are now little more than historical curiosities. So what makes French advertising agency Publicis believe its similar-sounding “holistic” approach to communications will have a broader appeal?
One reason for the failure of previous attempts to sell integrated marketing is that in most cases it cast advertising in the central role, with other communications disciplines—public relations, sales promotion, direct marketing—often little more than an afterthought. Professionals who did not come out of a paid advertising background had little role in developing strategy. Clients spent more money on ads than on PR, so advertising must be more important, and advertising people must be smarter, right?
But Publicis is making a concerted effort to make sure that it offers a genuinely integrated product, one that allows every discipline to contribute to the maximum of its capabilities. And this week saw signs of the company’s commitment to getting it right, as well as indications that some clients at least are buying the new model.
It was a busy week for Publicis, which added a major new client—the Washington State Lottery—promoted agency veteran Steve Bryant to lead its flagship Seattle office, and moved into a new U.S. headquarters in New York.      
The new headquarters will house both the advertising and public relations operations of Publicis in New York’s Herald Square. The new 120,000 square foot facility will be home to a staff of over 350 people, and will bring together Publicis Advertising, the public relations and direct/promotions units of Publicis Dialog, and Optimedia International, under one roof for the first time.
Says Robert Bloom, chairman and CEO of Publicis in the United States, “Our intention was not just to build a new office space but to design and construct a new operational concept that could facilitate holistic thinking. Creative ideas that result from a broader range of communications perspectives have a greater potential to differentiate clients’ brand in today’s highly competitive marketplace.”
Andy Hopson, president of Publicis Dialog, which includes the agency’s PR, direct, and promotions units says the design is important to the agency’s holistic approach: “The new space will break down the barriers to creative collaboration across departments and marketing disciplines.”
The promotion of Bryant to head the Seattle office of Publicis Dialog is another indication of the way the advertising and PR operations are working in tandem. According to Hospon, the company’s advertising operations in Seattle have been adding serious creative talent, recruiting about 20 professionals from leading west coast rivals in recent months. Hopson says he wanted someone with outstanding creative credentials to head PR operations in the city.
“I have worked with Steve for seven years, and he has continually proven his exceptional creativity. He was one of the authors of our holistic positioning, and he has been an author of many of the holistic programs we have put together. I felt it was necessary to match what our advertising partners were doing in terms of creativity, and that Steve was the right person to do that.
Bryant’s work has won creative awards for clients such as Sonicare, Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing, PETsMART, and Tandem.
Bryant’s newest account will be the Washington State Lottery, which recently renewed its contract with Publicis and added public relations to the agency’s existing responsibilities. Publicis has handled the advertising aspect of the account since 1998, with Edelman Public Relations Worldwide managing the PR component.
“The Washington State Lottery account is one of the agency’s signature assignments, and we look forward to producing creative advertising and public relations work that will make our lotteries the envy of lotteries around the country,” says Randy Browning, co-president and chief marketing officer for Publicis in the west.  “This is a testament to the value of Publicis’ holistic approach to communications.”
While the lottery win, along with the recent addition of the Washington Apple Commission, are good omens for Publicis, Hopson says he is not yet satisfied with the progress the firm is making. After several midsize acquisitions last year—including Purdom PR in San Francisco, Selz Seabolt in Chicago, and LobsenzStevens in New York—Publicis has been quiet this year.
“We are working harder and progressing more slowly than we have come to expect,” Hopson says. “We have refined our positioning around the holistic communications philosophy, and we have won more business than we have lost, but we have also seen some long term clients who have cut back their budgets. We’re expending a lot of energy just to keep pace.”
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