Publicis builds presence across Atlantic with another buy

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PARIS -- Publicis, Europe's biggest ad agency and seventh in the world, has bought 70% of BCP Canada Inc. of Montreal, Canada's seventh largest advertising and communications group.

The newly named Publicis-BCP will help "serve as a solid launching pad for our continuing expansion in North America," says Maurice Levy, chairman and CEO of Publicis. The purchase is further evidence of the group's ambitions to expand on its own, having last year rescinded its international alliance with True North, in which it remains the largest shareholder.

Publicis is already in North America with the Publicis- Bloom agency in New York and Dallas. The move also comes hard on the heels of two acquisitions by the group in Mexico (the Romero agency) and Brazil (the Norton agency).

BCP, which had revenues of $18m last year, has a client list which includes Molson Breweries, Procter & Gamble, Videotron, Pfizer and Club Med. It also has close ties to the Liberal party, having worked on Prime Minister Jean Chretien's 1993 election campaign. BCP also worked on the successful NO campaign in last year's referendum on Quebec independence. In addition, it manages the largest advertising space-buying organization in Quebec.

The change in ownership will shake the Canada Post and Canada Mortage and Housing Corp. accounts out of the agency since they only do business with 100% Canadian-owned businesses.

Only three of the top 10 agencies in Canada remain Canadian-owned: Cosette Communication-Marketing of Montreal (No2), Vickers & Benson Advertising Ltd. of Toronto (No9), and Palmer Jarvis Communication Ltd. of Vancouver (No10).

Yves Gougoux, who currently heads BCP, will manage the new agency. He will have a 30% stake and is named vice president of Publicis Communication, with a place on the Publicis management board and on the group's North American management committee.

Copyright September 1996, Crain Communications Inc.

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