Publicis-Omnicom Merger May Not Happen

Did you think everything was going swimmingly with the Publicis Omnicom merger? Well, it isn't. Legal and tax issues in Europe plague the deal's progression as well as fights over who is actually acquiring who is stalling the process. Oh, and let's not leave out the battle over who will be the merged holding company's CFO. Omnicom wants its guy, Randall Weisenburger, and Publicis wants its guy, Jean-Michel Etienne.  And this is just the big stuff. If the deal does progress, the amount of inter-agency and inter-department strife and reorganization is truly unimaginable. It's all good, however. At least for Publicis, whose CEO Maurice Levy recently said: "I would like to stress that Publicis has a very clear strategy with strong objectives and a strong position and I do believe we are the best holding company in our sector for the future, bar none. There is no issue if we go back to a standalone company. Life is good for Publicis whatever happens."

Maybe it was those nondescript babbling brook ads Hill Holliday created 25 years ago. Maybe it's that Lexus continues to eat its lunch. Whatever the reason, Infiniti is struggling and has been for some time. Currently, it's number 7 in luxury car sales behind Mercedes, BMW, Lexus, Cadillac, Acura and Audi. The brand hasn't seen a good year since 2005. Enter Allyson Witherspoon, the brand's new director of marketing. Witherspoon, of course, is holding an agency review. TBWA Worldwide is the brand's current agency. While the brand is in early stages and has not named contenders, Witherspoon says by the end of this summer she will pick one agency to handle the brand's global marketing needs. What does Witherspoon want for the brand? "Our aspirations are to be a tier one luxury brand. That's to be with the likes of BMW, Audi and Mercedes." And it looks like she's looking for another Jonathon Pryce-like solution. "There's an element of pop culture. We want to be sure we introduce ourselves and establish ourselves in a very relevant way. Who are the right people to do that? That's what we're evaluating."

For a minute when we heard Birmingham-based Luckie & Company had just landed the Historic Triangle account, we wondered if we'd be seeing a crazy awesome campaign for the Bermuda Triangle. Alas, it's only a tourism campaign for Williamsburg area's Historic Triangle, a triangular area in Virginia which consists of Jamestown, Colonial Williamsburg and Yorktown. The campaign, which will be funded by a special $2 per room tax, will target neighboring metro areas including Raleigh/Durham, Baltimore, Washington D.C., New York and Philadelphia.

Have you agency folks run out of ideas to promote yourselves? Are you just too busy with client work to bother? Well, you should. And it doesn't have to be all that hard. Take a look at these 8 interesting ways that agencies have promoted themselves. No, don't do a lame spot on "Mad Men," but do consider creating an app that helps clients fire their agency or an insanely epic explainer video or a mailing of fake guns or even severed hands! Check out this list and see if it gets your creative juices flowing.
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1 comment about "Publicis-Omnicom Merger May Not Happen".
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  1. hal dar from web assoc , April 28, 2014 at 9:14 a.m.

    anyone researching into the fraud allegations against the Publicis Groupe purchase of Rosetta on the West Coast, aka Rosetta Marketing Group? Includes CEO Tom Adamski and is a near 5 year litigation…..understood to be the largest fraud complaint filed in San Luis Obispo County history, 260 Million….could be supportive of Omni attempts to grab that CFO function…..
    ..

  • SS+K Gives Middle Finger to Open Office Haters

    Recently, there's been increased debate surrounding the open office concept and its effect on productivity. Various articles and studies have pointed out that it may not be as productive a work environment as old-school offices with walls and doors. Some posit that the concept fosters the creative spirit. Others posit that the concept fosters distraction and anxiety.

    While many agencies have gone open concept, one is publicly proclaiming its love for the concept in an open letter published in Ad Age. Penned by SS+K Partner and Chief Creative Officer Bobby Hershfield, the letter reads like a "facts be damned" opinion piece which, truth be told, is perhaps all well and good. After all, what works for some, doesn't work for others.

    In the letter, Hershfield thumbs his nose at stats highlighting the downside of the open office concept and touts the concept's benefits as he sees them. He writes: “We don't rely on email so much. We talk. Email follows up a conversation instead of initiating one, or even worse, substituting for one. We don't just share ideas. We wad them up and toss them at each other, blurt them out, interrupt and criticize and applaud them. We talk more. Walk around. Offer suggestions enroute to the bathroom. We don't hide in our offices. We don't hide behind walls. We are exposed and sometimes that fear puts pressure on us to be better in every aspect of our job." 

    He finishes, writing: "We are happier. We are less complacent. Less bored. We are stimulated. And we are getting to know one another better, which makes a culture that really is only about people and [making] ideas stronger."

    There never will be an answer to this conundrum mostly because everyone has a different work style. Some love the thrill of constant interaction and lobbing ideas back and forth while eating their lunch and walking on their standing treadmill desk. Others love to cocoon themselves and let prior interactions gestate into well-formed ideas which are then shared to a larger group. To each their own, I guess.

  • Hey Agencies, Here's 5 Reasons Why Startups Should Pay You More

    David Murdico, creative director and managing partner of Supercool Creative Agency puts forth a solid argument as to why startups should pay agencies more than brands do for the same work. 

    First of all, he notes a startup is an unknown entity and no one has ever heard of it before making it all the more difficult to create the necessary marketing program to achieve awareness and sale. He notes startups are generally more demanding than established brand marketers, often times because so much is at stake.

    Perhaps the biggest problem area when it comes to crafting marketing for a startup is that up until the point the startup reached out to an agency, everything about the startup has, thus far, operated in an echo chamber with scant few nodding and bobbing their heads in agreement without truly vetting the idea or how the idea will be perceived in the real world.

    Another challenge when working with a startup? They tend to change their mind a lot about, well, everything. And that can be a gigantic time suck. Check out Murdico's entire list here and file it away in your back pocket for use the next time you consider working with a startup.

  • This Consultant Argues CMOs, Not CFOs and COOs Should Rise to the Office of CEO

    Max Brand Equity President Richard Guha says marketers should own and run businesses. He notes that many CEOs are culled from the CFO and COO ranks rather than the CMO ranks. 

    Making the argument, he writes: "If Marketing were to do its job perfectly and customers were to come and buy, there would be no need for Sales. So if only Marketing could do its job perfectly, it would be the 'go-to' function in business. Yet, companies routinely look to the CFO or Head of Operations, who do not directly contribute to the key objective of the company when it comes to choosing a CEO instead of promoting the CMO to CEO. Why?

    Why, indeed? 

    Well, he says too many marketers rely on gut feel rather than sound, scientific analysis. He notes: "Engineers can’t [rely on gut feel], or bridges would collapse, buildings crumble, and machines fail. Marketers need to think more like good engineers than mere wielders of tools."

    Do marketers lack the ability to approach brand building in the manner Guha advocates? Or is the nature of marketing and advertising too "squishy" to be crafted with exactitude akin to engineering a bridge? Is it silly to even compare the two?
  • Tumblr Blog 'Mad Men Integrated' Envisions Mad Men Characters In the Digital Age

    This is gold! Gold, I tell you! And it's arrived just in time. As we all mourn the loss of our beloved Mad Men characters, they have been given renewed life, in the form of a Tumblr blog, as digital natives spewing all the usual buzzword bingo that's so prevalent in today's marketing landscape.

    Taking on the form of animated gifs, we have Don informing his secretary: "The future of advertising is socially integrated digital platforms." We have Peggy commending a co-worker saying: "Nice branded social post, bro." We have Don asking Peggy: "But does it work as a pre-roll." We have Don reacting to a proposed "Tinder-powered drone." We have Pete telling Don: "The CTRs need optimizing for behavioral targeting of Millennials." 

    And on and on and on. Brilliance.

  • Former Y&R Exec Heads To Children's Hospital Of Chicago

    Kary McIlwain, a 26-year veteran of Y&R, is heading to Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago in July taking the position of vice president of marketing. Since 2002, McIlwain has been president and North American managing partner of Y&R.

    Of Mcllwain, Children's Hospital President and CEO Patrick Magoon said: "We are excited to have a marketing executive of her caliber joining Lurie Children's. With her expertise and passion, Kary is the ideal leader to oversee our marketing efforts in support of the hospital's mission."

    Under McIlwain's tenure, Y&R was named 2014 Agency of the Year by the Chicago Advertising Federation. On joining Children's Hospital, Mcllwain adds, "I am thrilled to embark on this new phase in my career, to step out of the advertising agency world into promoting a mission-driven organization. Lurie Children's is a world class hospital that deserves world class recognition." 

    Linda Wolf, former chairman and CEO of Leo Burnett Company, chairs Lurie Children's Marketing Committee and said, "I have known Kary for many years and I have watched her grow into one of the top marketing executives in the country. Her deep knowledge of the advertising world and her track record of exceptional outcomes will greatly benefit Lurie Children's, one of Chicago's beloved institutions."
  • This McCann Mad Man Says Computers Have Destroyed Creativity

    Greg Birbil worked at McCann for over 40 years. He started in 1961 and retired ten years ago. In an interview with Vulture, he relives some memories from the Mad Men era of advertising but has no kind words for the current state of things, especially the use of technology in creative departments.

    Of that inevitable development, he says, "You know, I have a whole theory: I just think computers are not good for creative people. They’re a finishing-up tool, not the instrument to help you create. It’s not because I’m an old guy -- because I don’t respect or understand the value of the computer or the internet. It’s a pencil, an extremely fast pencil."

    He continues: "But the computer guys, at a digital agency, they’ve got their heads in the screen all day and have absolutely no human skills. An art director in the old days was dealing with typesetters, photographers, the client. These guys don’t. You’re looking to make people see things in a new way, and if you’re in there looking for stuff, that won’t happen."

    Is he right?
  • Really? Seriously? Now We Have The Chief Native Officer?

    Oh for f*ck's sake! Stop. Just please stop! Every ridiculous addition to the CxO title space just dumbs down the importance of the core four: CEO, CFO, COO and CIO. Maybe you can add CMO and CCO to that list -- but chief data officer? Chief customer officer? And now...wait for it...chief native officer?

    Yeah. Chief native officer. Or at least that's what Forbes Contributor Daniel Newman would like to see instituted. Newman argues that the merging of paid and earned media requires this CxO style oversight. 

    He furthers his point, writing: "The biggest reason to get a Native Officer is that while digital agencies and publishers work together, they don’t necessarily do so as a team. In fact, there are instances where they don’t see eye to eye. While publishers are great at creating content, they can treat branded content like a 'second-class citizen.' On the other hand, digital agencies consider themselves star content creators for brands. In such circumstances, there’s a pressing need for a 'dedicated task force' to exploit native ads to their fullest potential. The CNO should lead this pack, guiding the brand towards rewarding native advertising campaigns and best practices."

    So what say you? Do we need the chief native officer?

  • Further Ignoring Productivity Studies, 'Superwide' Office Space Is Now All the Rage

    Sort of like food brands still pimping low fat/no fat products when studies clearly indicate the human body needs fat, the office management world is still pimping open office space when many studies have shown it's a less productive solution than more traditional office space.

    That's not stopping the latest trend in office space, the Superwide. Superwide office space is large, one floor office space consisting of 100,000 square feet or more. Of the trend, Brookfield Property Partners Senior VP Duncan McCuaig said: “Large floors are absolutely in demand.” And “right now there is very little of this product in the city,” he added, referring to Manhattan.

    Adam Kansler, managing director at financial data company Markit, loves the open office concept and says: “There’s something that gets lost” when a company is on multiple floors. You don’t get the same random moments of seeing someone from across the way, hearing that they’re working on a project, and saying, ‘Oh, I’m going to stop by.’ ”

    Which, for some, is exactly the problem with the open office concept; constant interruptions and annoyances from co-workers who never shut up and have nothing better to do than run a constant stream of verbal diarrhea while you're trying to complete a project. 

    But that won't stop ad agencies from continuing to pile on this trend.
  • Former JWT Director Joins Gravity As Global Strategist

    Multicultural ad agency, Gravity, has named Rodrigo Alanis global strategist for the shop, which has offices in New York, Los Angeles and Paris.

    Alanis, who is fluent in Spanish, comes to Gravity from his start-up Optimistico where he served as founder and chief executive officer. He has been with Optimistico since 2009. Prior to that, Alanis served as director at JWT Inside for nine years and traveled  across the agency's multiple offices including New York and Dallas.

    Of Alanis, Gravity CEO Yuriy Boykiv, said: “Rod is a valuable addition to the Gravity team as we expand and strengthen our competencies in consumer insights, brand planning and analytics.

    Alanis has worked on campaigns for brands such as HSBC, JetBlue, Scholastic, Harry Potter, The U.S. Department of State, and the U.S. Marines.

    Of joining the agency, Alanis said, “Joining Gravity is a unique opportunity to bring my diverse experience in brand-led business growth strategy to the team and its clients. The agency has an iconic client list, and very, very talented people. I’m thrilled to be part of this growth opportunity.”
  • Copywriter Uses Instagram to Teach People How to Speak Foreign Languages

    Otavio Barbon, a copywriter at AKQA New York, has launched a personal project. It's called @The Polyglot, a profile on Instagram (and sister Web site) that teaches people how to spell and pronounce the most common words in six different languages.

    All voices used in the project -- which is a side gig and not associated with AKQA -- were recorded by native speakers, allowing for pronunciations that are accurate and natural...very different, Barbon says, from the robotic voices of most translation platforms.

    Of the project, Barbon said: “Instagram is actually a perfect platform for quick learning. Our idea with The Polyglot is to bring something useful to people’s feeds. It’s a simple, friendly way to introduce people to new languages and hopefully inspire them to learn more.”

    So the next time you have a meeting with a foreign client or overseas outpost of your agency, check out @The_Polyglot.
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