New Publicis agency Roar may herald a merger of big holding companies’ digital and media operations

Publicis Groupe is reshuffling its digital assets once again, having spent billions over the years acquiring Digitas, Razorfish, Rosetta and LBi among others.

Now it’s setting up new ‘bespoke’ digital agency Roar, to handle JP Morgan Chase, by some measures the biggest bank in the world.

But Roar, at the top levels anyway, seems to be mainly comprised of people from PG’s ZenithOptimedia media operation even though it says it will offer creative too. Boss is president Sean Reardon, formerly strategy boss at ZO in New York, and he will report to ZO North America boss Tim Jones who is also the head of PG’s Performics Worldwide, whatever that may be. Rosetta’s Madeleine Freind will be the number two.

Even though PG has done well in terms of market positioning from its gaggle of digital agencies there seems to be an ongoing process of rationalisation. Digitas and LBi merged in February 2013 despite costing nearly $1bn between them, presumably on the grounds that they were strong agency brands.

imagesWith the collapse of the Omnicom/Publicis merger, which PG boss Maurice Levy (left) has admitted was to be the crowning achievement of his long career, PG needs to concentrate on bringing home the bacon in terms of increased margins and profits.

Roar may look like yet another PG digital agency – and JP Morgan Chase is clearly an important account – but it may actually herald a structural change. With programmatic buying becoming more and more important, the likes of PG, WPP and Omnicom have to work out what they’re going to do with all their media agencies and the thousands of people who work in them.

Roar might just as well be seen as a new departure for Zenith Optimedia – a sign that digital agencies and media agencies are coming much closer together.

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