Publicis Marshals Big Guns to Run P&G Business

24 October 2002

Midnight oil is burning at Publicis’ headquarters in the Avenue des Champs Elysées as senior executives from Leo Burnett, Saatchi & Saatchi and the former D’Arcy hammer out the composition of an executive structure dedicated to the account of global fmcg titan Procter & Gamble.

The recent ingestion of Bcom3’s Leo Burnett and D’Arcy networks into the Publicis maw brings with it a host of P&G brands, now to be managed alongside those already handled by Saatchi & Saatchi.

Leo Burnett currently oversees ten P&G brands, D’Arcy also handles ten, and Saatchi & Saatchi eight including flagship washing powders Ariel and Tide.

According to Publicis insiders, the smart money is on Kevin Roberts, the New Zealand-born ceo of Saatchi & Saatchi, to take the helm on the Procter & Gamble business.

Roberts (53), himself a P&G staffer in his early career, has focused on the client since joining Saatchi in the mid-nineties. He is said to have a close relationship with Alan G Lafley, P&G chief executive and architect of the turnround in its fortunes; as well as chief marketing officer James R Stengel and lesser mortals in the Cincinnati hierarchy.

The executive committee will also comprise representatives from each of the networks – although D’Arcy as such will probably cease to exist in the near future. It is reported, however, that P&G has sought and received assurances that the D’Arcy key account management will continue to be closely involved [WAMN: 14-Oct-02].

P&G’s Stengel is recently on record as wanting to change the way the company works with its agencies: “I’m looking for systemic changes I can make in terms of our relationships with agencies. I think we can use them better than we are now to grow the business.”

One item said to be high on the agenda of the new Publicis committee is the steering of P&G’s non-advertising business to its specialist marketing services units. This could create a tailormade role for former D’Arcy ceo John Farrell given his extensive earlier background in sales promotion, including the presidency of Britain's Institute of Sales Promotion.

Data sourced from: The Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff