Publicis sets up global virtual agency network

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The Publicis Group is setting up a global virtual agency network called Publicis Technology, to be based on the Internet and backed up by a small number of real offices, one of which will be in San Francisco.

Acquisition of a small Silicon Valley-based U.S. agency is expected to be finalized next week with the aim of starting operations within the new network by yearend or early 1998. The U.S. office will be staffed by the acquired agency's existing personnel.

The Paris-based Publicis Group launched its new concept Sept. 10 with the purchase for an estimated $13 million of the SMI Group, London, a specialist new technology agency which will form the nucleus of the new Publicis Technology network.

The 7-year-old SMI bills $60 million and already works with technology clients such as Olivetti; IBM Europe, Middle East and Africa; and AMD Europe, an Intel clone, using its proprietary SupraNet software that builds offices for each client in cyberspace. The system gives executives centralized control over multicountry campaigns, and allows rapid contact between agency and all client offices via the Internet.

Copyright September 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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