The timing could not have been any worse. Steve King, after 30 years at ZenithOptimedia – the last 11 as CEO – was beginning to reinvent himself as the new CEO of Publicis Media.

“As we were beginning to put our launch plans together,” King told a keynote panel audience at the 4A’s (American Association of Advertising Agencies) 2018 Accelerate conference, “working on how we were going to come to market with clients and the brands, the ANA [Association of National Advertisers] announced this investigation into the media business.

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Steve King, CEO, Publicis Media

“At the time, obviously, it was a huge distraction for us.” Thirty-four Publicis Media clients immediately insisted on a review of the agency’s business practices and, King noted, “Many of those were very deep forensic audits.”