Publicis Media’s agencies used to be on their own when hiring talent. But of late, the network’s shops—which include Starcom, Zenith, Spark Foundry and PerformicsCollective—are working together to attract and find the best fit for employees across the sprawling organization.
Publicis Media surges with major client wins, retail media investments
“We might find somebody for Starcom, but maybe that person wasn't perfect for the Starcom position, but may be great over here on Zenith—and I think in the past, we weren't necessarily connecting those dots,” said Chris Boothe, Publicis Media’s chief operating officer in the U.S.
It is just one example of how the media agency network is embracing Publicis Groupe’s “Power of One” mantra—a philosophy that favors collaboration over silos that has fueled major client wins and impressive financial gains. Publicis Media’s revenue surged by double digits in 2022, powered by new business wins totaling more than $2 billion in billings, including new accounts and organic growth from Pernod Ricard, Mondelez, KFC, PepsiCo, McDonald’s and Anheuser-Busch InBev.
The network also successfully defended its massive Verizon account—which it has held for more than 10 years—while expanding the scope to include TracFone, the value wireless business that Verizon acquired in 2021. Verizon is “always evaluating” its agencies and “every time we evaluate, they continue to be at the top,” said Rafael Rivero, Verizon’s senior VP of media and effectiveness.
Epsilon, Publicis Groupe’s data marketing arm, is factoring into nearly every new business win as clients crave tools to use data to build personal relationships with consumers. The holding company’s acquisition of Epsilon for $4 billion in 2019 initially drew skepticism from industry observers wondering how Publicis would use it to its advantage.
Dave Penski, CEO of Publicis Media U.S., conceded it took time to integrate Epsilon—but said a key moment came when it began offering some of its data services as a base media offering rather than charging more for it. “We put a huge amount of the data, the ability to plan audiences, on all of our planners’ laptops … where it allows you to look at growth audiences using Epsilon data,” he said.
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Retail media and diverse content investments
Publicis’ 2021 purchase of CitrusAd for an undisclosed sum is fueling its retail media offering, while last year’s acquisition of e-commerce intelligence platform Profitero is boosting Publicis’ analytics. CitrusAd software uses first-party shopper data to allow brands to buy media on and off retailer websites. Retail media is “another great place to find eyeballs,” and “closed loop measurement is really important for clients,” Penski said.
Publicis Media is also experimenting in Web3 marketing for clients; it has about 1,000 employees dedicated to the segment out of its total global workforce of about 23,000. Work includes “Wendyverse,” which involved partnering with creators to build a virtual restaurant in Horizon World for Wendy’s. “Clients are doing a lot of testing” for Web3, “and we've seen some wins out of this,” said Penski. But he added that it remains a “nascent” category across the ad industry, amounting to a “rounding error” worth of new revenue.
Publicis has seen measurable success with its Once & for All Coalition, launched in 2021 to boost investment in minority-owned media suppliers, partly through fostering the development of minority creators. The 60-member coalition includes Publicis clients as well as media suppliers and trade groups. It includes a $25 million fund to invest in diverse content creation. Recipients include AspireTV, a TV network focused on Black culture that used some of the money to produce a docuseries called “6 Minutes to Glory: The HBCU Band Experience.”
The fund was established in response to a call from clients for more diverse media supply, said Publicis Media Global CEO Talia Raviv. “It’s something tactical and tangible,” she said. “It’s not talk. We cut checks for 25 million bucks.”