Publicis re-org puts U.S. focus on three offices

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Publicis has reorganized its eight U.S. offices into three so-called centers of excellence, a move designed to provide clients with better access to top agency management and talent.

The shift will increase collaboration between offices and allow creatives, strategic planners and account managers from the $1.2 billion U.S. agency to work throughout a region, rather than in just one office, said Robert Bloom, chairman-CEO of Publicis in the U.S. (True North tries a similar approach. See story on Page 4.)

"There is a huge bureaucracy that has been set up in the industry, and what we are attempting to do is eliminate the bureaucracy and let advertising people go back to crafting and being involved in strategy issues," Mr. Bloom said. "We're going to be focusing the energy in three places and getting lightning to strike [in three places] as opposed to eight different places."


Although no offices will be closed, the Chicago, Dallas and Indianapolis offices will become part of Publicis in Mid America while the Boise, Idaho, and Seattle offices will comprise Publicis in the West. The Manhattan office has been renamed Publicis in New York and remains the agency's U.S. headquarters. Each unit includes Optimedia International, Publicis' media buying and planning arm, as well as Publicis Dialog for direct, interactive, public relations and promotions.

Publicis' Salt Lake City office reports to Andy Hopson, president of Dialog in the U.S., and has been rebranded Publicis Dialog; Publicis & Hal Riney, San Francisco, will be separate from Publicis in the West and continue to report directly to Paris.

As a result of the reorganization, administrative, human resources and finance positions from the eight offices will be shifted to Dallas, part of Publicis in Mid America. Administrative staff who do not want to relocate will be reassigned, Mr. Bloom said, adding there will be no layoffs, although some people have left the agency in the reorganization.


The U.S. operation of Publicis is part of Paris-based Publicis Groupe, the world's No. 5 agency with global billings of $15 billion. The U.S. organization model initially will be used only domestically, but a variation eventually could be implemented globally, Mr. Bloom said.

He said this new U.S. structure should help Publicis -- the nation's No. 20 agency brand -- double its U.S. billings to $2.4 billion by 2004.

Tony DeGregorio, president-chief creative officer of Publicis in New York, will run that unit until a chairman-CEO is found. Barry Krause, president of Publicis & Hal Riney, Chicago, becomes chairman-CEO of Publicis in Mid America. Dennis Miller, chairman-CEO of Publicis Seattle, becomes CEO of Publicis in the West. All will report to Mr. Bloom. New York is the agency's largest shop, followed by the Mid America and West shops.

One goal of the reorganization is to reduce administrative chores, which Messrs. Krause, Miller and DeGregorio estimate now take up 20% to 35% of their time.

"People spend their lifetime building a career for themselves, and then you are pushed into administrative roles and you lose your edge because that's not what you do best. I don't want to deal with financial matters. I want to deal with client matters," Mr. DeGregorio said.


Mr. Krause said the reorganization also gives agency heads access to all creatives and talent in their region, rather than being limited to creatives in their respective offices.

"Normally, you fight to find one award-winning creative person to work on a piece of business. Here, for example, I'll be able to [use five]," Mr. Krause said. "I've never had that kind of depth and breadth."

Clients were informed of the change in letters mailed July 28. The change is effective immediately.

As part of the shift, Ted Barton moves to the new post of president- creative of Publicis in Mid America, Dallas. Richard Coad succeeds him in Chicago as exec VP-executive creative director, from senior VP-creative director. There are no plans to relocate other creatives in the West or New York arms, Mr. Bloom said, but each unit head will spend time in other offices that are part of a region.

Publicis said it wants to hire additional creative and strategic talent. Executives said they hope to add 20 staffers in Mid America, 12 in the West and 10 in New York.

Mr. Bloom said Publicis also is looking to purchase four agencies by the end of the year -- a public relations shop for New York, a deal that could be sealed by mid-August; two advertising agencies to add to Mid America by the middle of September; and an integrated shop to meld with its Western group by mid-October. Mr. Bloom said the agency is also in early discussions to buy a Western ad agency he wouldn't identify.

Contributing: Laura Petrecca

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