Publicis Groupe combines several PR firms under MS&L name

PARIS: Publicis Groupe has moved a number of its PR firms under a new network led by MS&L in a bid to better leverage its PR assets for clients.

PARIS: Publicis Groupe has moved a number of its PR firms under a new network led by MS&L in a bid to better leverage its PR assets for clients. The new MS&L Group will include Publicis Consultants Worldwide and Publicis Events, among other firms. Some Publicis PR firms, such as Kekst & Co. and Freud will remain independent in order to keep their unique attributes intact.

All PR, though, continues to report to Olivier Fleurot, who was appointed to oversee the discipline in May after the company dismantled the SAMS division, which previously housed all Publicis PR firms.

“By joining forces, the MSL Group is now able to compete with the largest competitors in the top 25 markets,” Fleurot told PRWeek. “We intend to be a more serious competitor.”

JKL, Winner & Associates, TMG Strategies, PBJS, Relay, Capital MS&L, Publicis Events, SAS, Masius, Carré Noir, and Hanmer MS&L will also be part of MS&L Group. Fleurot confirmed earlier reports that MS&L Group's revenues would be in the $400-$500 million range, calling it “pretty accurate.”

The company has not yet decided which of the firms joining the new group will retain their names and which will be marketed under the MS&L Group brand, but Fleurot said he believed most would remain unchanged.

Jim Tsokanos, promoted to MS&L Group Americas president under the restructuring, said the reorganization will lend the company's clients and potential clients greater global scale and access to specialized firms collaborating together. “We're going to be more integrated and collaborative,” he said.

Both Fleurot and Tsokanos championed the potential to pitch in a more holistic way and in a more strategic manner. Fleurot expressed the goal to move a company that is a client in five countries, for example, into a client for 10 countries due to its new footprint and expertise held by some firms and not others under the new network.

“We had very good firms but they weren't sharing best practices,” he said.

The group is also interested in acquisitions that will further widen its footprint in the marketplace.

“We don't have the right scale in Asia, in China, particularly,” Fleurot said, noting that additional resources in India and financial communications are other potential targets. Tsokanos expressed interest in public affairs, digital, and technology in the US.

A competitor agency CEO suggested that the success of the venture depends on Publicis' ability to integrate the cultures of the once competitive firms and to pitch that synergy to clients, rather than it new size.

"Culture is the biggest challenge,” the source said. “It's not about how you put your organization chart together.”

Updated November 16, 2009, 5:25pm

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