In the latest step in an ongoing restructuring, Publicis Groupe is creating a country president role, starting with France, where Agathe Bousquet joins from rival Havas to lead all four Publicis divisions.
Ms. Bousquet, who is currently chair and CEO of Havas Worldwide Paris, will take on the newly-created position of president of Publicis Groupe in France, leading Publicis Communications, Publicis Media, Publicis.Sapient and Publicis Health in that country. (The four global divisions were created in late 2015. Publicis Communications, for instance, includes the creative agency networks like Saatchi & Saatchi, Leo Burnett and Publicis, and is headed by Arthur Sadoun).
More countries are set to follow. Ms. Bousquet starts on Sept. 1, and once she has established a method of working across the French operations, Publicis Groupe hopes to appoint other executives to take on the position of president in other markets.
The announcement comes only a few weeks ahead of the June 1 handover by Maurice Lévy – who has been chairman and CEO of Publicis Groupe since 1987 – to successor Arthur Sadoun, currently global CEO of Publicis Communications.
"This is a big announcement for our group," Mr. Sadoun said in a call today with Ad Age. "Agathe is a brilliant and very special person. Recruitment took only a very short time because she was exactly what we were looking for. She is a top, top, top executive and a key pillar of Havas. Agathe will take an important role in transforming our relationships and making sure we have the right level of engagement with clients."
Ms. Bousquet, 43, doesn't have a conventional agency background. She began her career in the non-profit sector in Paris at Solidarité Sida, an association that helps AIDS patients, where she is still a director and volunteer. Her role included raising awareness of the group's mission as well as fundraising, so she worked extensively with ad agencies before joining Euro RSCG in 2001, where she worked with clients including Orange, McDonald's and the French Red Cross. She was promoted to chair and CEO of Havas's Paris office in 2012. She will report directly to Mr. Sadoun.
Mr. Lévy said in a statement that Ms. Bousquet's appointment signals a "new step for our organization." He added, "Agathe will be responsible for helping our clients … benefit from the full spectrum of Publicis Groupe's resources."
Mr. Sadoun said in a statement, "Maurice Lévy and I are very pleased to welcome Agathe to Publicis Groupe. From the start of her career in the non-profit sector right up to her chairing of Havas Paris, Agathe has been remarkably committed from the personal and professional points of view, enabling her to establish strong ties with teams and clients alike. We are convinced that she will rapidly assimilate our Groupe culture and work very closely with our agency leaders to ensure Publicis and its clients continue to be winners in France."