Omnicom owns some of the biggest global public relations brands—Fleishman-Hillard, Ketchum, and Porter Novelli among them—but several of those brands were slow to globalize and rather than wait some of Omnicom’s European advertising agency offices began to develop their own public relations offerings. The TBWA operation in France was the best of them, initially a “corporate” firm in the classic French mode—offering corporate identity, corporate advertising, publishing and other services alongside corporate communications—but more recently repositioned with a much more Anglo-Saxon approach.
The firm is organized according to a focus on various stakeholder groups—employees, media, the financial community, the political and policy realm—and draws on some of the intellectual property developed by its parent company, including its “disruption” approach, which involves asking disruptive questions, challenging conventional wisdoms and overturning preconceptions and prejudices to develop a fresh view of an organization’s brand.
TBWA Corporate has a team of 25—enough to earn it a place among the top 10 French public relations firms—led by chief executive Jean-Pierre Rousset, a Burson-Marsteller veteran who was also chief communications officer for Bull and La FNAC. Other key personnel include Robert Zarader, vice president and a specialist in crisis communication who previously worked with sister company BBDO Corporate, and associate Marion Darrieutort, formerly of i&e. Clients include some of the biggest names in French business, along with a handful of major multinationals: La Poste, SNCF, Carrefour, MSN, Siemens, Adidas, Club Med, Europ Assistance and Lyonnaise des Eaux.
The firm enjoyed 40 percent growth last year, with the Carrefour account win a major highlight: TBWA helped manage the crisis generated by the compensation package awarded departing chief executive Daniel Bernard. The firm also generated major media coverage of clients Siemens and MSN, and for Steria, a small and unknown computer company. It conceived and launched a new positioning for Adidas (“Prêt-à-sporter”) and worked to secure a major increase in coverage of the Herpes Association, including more than nine hours of television coverage.
When it comes to international work, TBWA works most closely with sister agency Fleishman-Hillard.