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(June 6, 2001) MONTREAL -- Publicis Groupe's Publicis Montreal has let go of most of its former creative staff (a total of eight people including two VPs) and has replaced them with a new creative team who are ushering in a new creative concept under the name M7 Publicis.

The agency said that "M7 is the result of several months of deliberation and studies aimed at revamping the methodology and the way creative products are developed in response to the new realities of the advertising world, the market and communication agencies."

In reality, Publicis Montreal, hasn't won a major new account of its own in at least three years, while sister agencies like Publicis Wellcare, the pharmaceutical division, Publicis Dialog, its promotion/direct marketing arm, Optimedia and Publicis Toronto have all gained new work.

Work done on existing accounts has been good: The agency won four awards at the recent Coq d'or awards honoring the best French-language advertising in Canada for client Molson and former client Metro-Richelieu. But account wins have been scarce since Yves Gougoux, chairman and CEO, left to head Publicis Conseil in Paris for two years in 1998, returning in 2000.

Heading M7 is Michel Beaudet, formerly with Publicite Martin, Cossette Communications and most recently with PNMD Communication (now BBDO Montreal).

Publicis went after Mr. Beaudet, who brings in a new team to work with the new concept: There would be no creative art director-copywriter teams per se. The entire M7 would work on each briefing.

"The basic idea behind the M7 Publicis cell is to make the creative process more fluid, and above all, democratize it, without sacrificing rigor," Mr. Beaudet said. "Each briefing will be handled by M7. A working framework has been set up to promote discussion and restore the 'idea' to its rightful place. Ideas rule."

Publicis Canada is the fifth largest communications group in Canada, with 450 employees between its Montreal and Toronto offices. -- Gail Chiasson

Copyright June 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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