Herro's query: What's client gain in deal?

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`If I was still a Saatchi investor I would have hoped for cash." That's what David Herro, director of international equities at Harris Associates, Chicago, thinks of Publicis Group's all-stock acquisition of Saatchi & Saatchi.

"A great deal of Saatchi's profitability comes from Procter & Gamble, and they are having their share of problems," said Mr. Herro, who spearheaded a December 1994 revolt among Saatchi shareholders that led to the ousting of then-Chairman Maurice Saatchi.

"With Procter being weak, I don't know how much growth Saatchi has going further, unless they have new accounts, which I don't really think they've been winning," he said in an interview with Advertising Age. "They had an OK year last year getting business from existing clients, but I don't think Procter's ad spend is going to be like it was."

Regarding the benefits -- and drawbacks -- of consolidation, Mr. Herro said, "I just don't know if being part of a big conglomeration is really good for the client. I could see where having access to a global agency is good for the client, but I don't think that necessarily means being part of, say, WPP.

"And when they say they are separate, well, which is it? Are they separate or are they not separate? If they're not separate, then there are conflict problems; and if they are separate, then where is the synergy?"

While he recognized the reasoning behind megadeals such as Publicis-Saatchi, Mr. Herro also remained skeptical about their impact, if any, on the client side.

"I could see where you would want to be a global agency. For example, Saatchi has some attractive attributes, they have media buying, they are truly a global agency, but why do you need all of these sister agencies?

"Ad people are good at making things sound good. All else being equal, it is at best neutral for the client."

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