Publicis Groupe expands its country model empire

‘Power of One’ believer Publicis Groupe has announced the expansion of its country model organisation with several key appointments.

Loris Nold, CEO of Publicis Groupe APAC since February 2018, will also oversee the Middle East and Africa; Jarek Ziebinski, CEO of Publicis One is appointed to the newly created role of CEO of Publicis Groupe for Northern and Central Europe, Gerry Boyle, CEO of Publicis Media APAC and EMEA, will oversee Southern Europe and Tim Jones, CEO of Publicis Media North America, will oversee Latin America (excluding Brazil). Brazil will continue to go its own way.

They join Annette King in the UK, Agathe Bousquet in France and Justin Billingsley (described as chair so maybe not all-powerful) in what Publicis quaintly calls DACH – Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

The US, Publicis’ most important market and one where it’s done well recently, will have to muddle through with an executive committee, suggesting that Publicis boss Arthur Sadoun (below) is finding it hard to choose between his various barons.

Sadoun says: “We are very happy to announce the expansion of our country organisation, building on the success that we have already experienced in some of our key markets such as France and the United Kingdom.. We are progressively completing our transformation to become a platform. To succeed, we need to implement the right balance between our global practices run by the Solutions and a country led model to deliver them in an integrated way.

“This is why this move is a key milestone in our journey and will make our model stronger. With all the country leaders and the Solution leaders, who are all members of the Management Committee, we are committed to transform Publicis Groupe for the best of our clients, our talents and all our stakeholders.”

Solutions presumably means the operating units: Communications, Media, Sapient and Healthcare. It reminds you of the time when truckers rebranded themselves as “logistics solutions.”

It’s all rather reminiscent of ancient Rome with the empire divided among local and regional governors. But that worked for a few hundred years, partly by providing the emperor with a manageable way of keeping an eye on these potentially disruptive influences.

There still could be conflicts in Sadoun’s new world order. Does UK country manager Annette King, who ran WPP’s Ogilvy Group in the UK for years, outrank Publics Media boss Steve King if there’s a dispute about their media agencies?

The key, as ever, will be clients. Do they go to one of these managers if they’re unhappy with a Publicis network? And what level of client is given access? Do the managers choose which agency or collection of people will pitch for a new business project? There’s the danger of creating a new kind of stifling bureaucracy.

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