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The Publicis-Omnicom structure will not last: Sir Martin Sorrell

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The Publicis-Omnicom structure will not last: Sir Martin Sorrell

Purple for Publicis and orange for Omnicom – will the two colours meet to create a beautiful painting or will they create a muddy mess? In July, Paris-based Publicis and New York-based Omnicom merged, in what the industry believes an attempt to dethrone the most powerful man in the business, Sir Martin Sorrell, CEO, WPP. The bang in the ad-world was big, bold and surprising, but the blue-eyed WPP Chief seems unaffected and continues to do what we he does best – in a faster manner.

Was the merger a desperate attempt to address the fierce competition from agencies or to fulfill the never-ending demands of the clients? Sorrell strongly believes that the structure won’t last, and will be changed soon. Referring to the new entity as “POG”, he cited some of the major concerns for the newly-merged business.

Who will be the leader?
According to him, the big question is who will be the new CEO? How can the co-CEO structure be maintained? How will the dual-management structure function? Can Maurice Lévy, French man and CEO of Publicis work in harmony with American John D Wren, CEO of Omnicom Group. The personalities of the new co-CEOs are indeed very different; hence, it is interesting to see who will lead. Sorrell said that the organisational structure, where there is a co-chairman or rotating chairman, won’t last.

Where is the CEO going to be based?
Where will be the headquarters of the merged entity? Since Omnicom Group is an American global advertising, marketing and corporate communications holding company, headquartered in New York City and Publicis Groupe is a French multinational advertising and public relations company, headquartered in Paris, France, where will the headquarters be ultimately? Does this mean that the French iconic company is being handed over to the Americans or is it the other way round, asked Sorrell.

Are clients and employees happy?
According to the WPP Chief, clients and employees have not been articulated the benefits. So will the clients benefit? Will the top talent feel neglected after the merger? There has been a vacuum in explaining the deal to internal and external customers.

It has also been observed that there are some conflicting clients, so it raises questions over whether clients would be happy to stay or not. Sorrell is looking forward to seeing how the mess gets sorted.

Though the merger is competitive and will bring agencies including Omnicom’s BBDO Worldwide and Publicis’s Leo Burnett and Saatchi & Saatchi together, there are still few basic challenges that need to be addressed to help expand business in major markets. The clients and top talent should see stability in the merged group for a better future.

The merger has created the world’s largest advertising agency, knocking off WPP. However, the true test begins now; it will be worth watching how the giants survive and grow in the rapidly changing media landscape.

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