Corporate Finance

French Ad Agency Publicis Loses $54M Account

The hit comes just after the firm announced plans to prop up its sluggish revenues.
Matthew HellerDecember 9, 2015

Just days after unveiling a companywide reorganization aimed at improving sluggish growth and helping it win more business, French advertising agency Publicis said it has lost Procter & Gamble’s media planning and buying account in North America.

P&G is shifting the bulk of the account to Omnicom as part of a broader effort to consolidate its relationships with advertising agencies. Publicis’ Starcom Mediavest Group has been handling U.S. buying for P&G brands such as Tide washing powder, Head & Shoulders shampoo, and Crest toothpaste.

“This is not the end of the world,” Publicis CFO Jean-Michel Etienne told investors Tuesday at the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference. “This is something that happens in this type of business. We have lost bigger accounts than that in the past.”

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The P&G media account in the United States accounted for roughly 0.7% of the Publicis’ revenue, Etienne said. Based on Publicis’ 2014 revenue, that would amount to roughly 50 million euros ($54 million).

“The psychological impact of a loss would be probably higher than the material impact on revenues and earnings,” Claudio Aspesi, a media analyst at Bernstein, told the Financial Times.

Last week, Publicis, whose subsidiaries include the Saatchi & Saatchi and Leo Burnett ad agencies, said it would regroup its companies into four units: communications, media, digital and consulting, and healthcare.

According to the Wall Street Journal, “Publicis’ organic revenue growth has lagged behind that of its competitors in recent years and the company has been especially exposed in this year’s wave of media pitches as several large clients chose to put their accounts in review.”

Before the P&G loss, Publicis was net positive on new business in this year’s media reviews, Etienne said. However, those wins were not as big as P&G’s billings, the WSJ noted.

“The reorganization that’s in place gives us new opportunities and I’m pretty sure we’ll have a different picture soon,” Etienne said.