ANA Members Divided over Implications of Publicis Omnicom Merger

Some Concerned About Conflicts and Fewer Agency Options, Others Optimistic Mega Firm Will Boost Media-Buying Clout

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In the wake of the Publicis Omnicom merger announcement, clients are having mixed reactions. Some are brushing off concerns about newly-created conflicts with competitors, others are optimistic scale will have its benefits, and many are taking a wait-and-see approach. After all, it's unclear yet whether the deal will definitely be approved, and assuming it is, it'll take time before the fallout from the integration of the two companies becomes clear.

Bill Duggan
Bill Duggan

Suffice it to say, there will be far-reaching implications for marketers. Here's what Bill Duggan, group EVP-Association of National Advertisers, has to say about the marketing industry trade group's view on the biggest deal in adland history.

We've heard concerns from some members about competitive conflicts. Bringing Publicis and Omnicom together will bring competitors under the same holding company umbrella. In some cases fierce and direct competitors. In other cases, indirect competitors.

Marketers are working with more agency types than ever before and usually unbundle their work to multiple agencies -- creative agency, media agency, specialty agencies, etc. So the ability for Publicis and Omnicom to put up firewalls to safe guard against conflicts becomes even more complicated. There are more agencies and more firewalls required. And therefore more risk of leaks in those firewalls.

And there are concerns we have heard from members about options becoming more limited, as two holding companies are merging into one -- and one holding company option is now going away.

This may now present an opportunity for smaller and mid-sized agencies to be seen as attractive options if clients are concerned about conflicts from this merger or the now reduced number of holding company options. But the smaller and mid-sized agencies are likely to be domestic/U.S. based solutions and not global solutions.

The merger will bring expected benefits to Publicis and Omnicom with efficiencies from size and scale. Marketers may benefit from that size and scale. There has already been some speculation in the press that the merger could bring the benefit of greater media efficiencies, given the combined clout of the two holding companies.

But marketers also hire agencies for innovation and creativity. Clients of Publicis and Omnicom should directly ask their agencies -- "What's in this for me?" and "How will this impact my business?" Marketers who are clients of Publicis and Omnicom, in fact, have a responsibility to have those candid conversations.

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