The head of one agency that would have been part of POG claimed no plans that would have affected their work ever filtered down from the top of the two giant organisations during the protracted talks.
Speaking off the record, the agency head said the message from the top was now "this is not going ahead so please focus on your day jobs" and when they passed on the news to staff there were no questions.
"At grassroots level it hasn’t really affected anyone because it was something taking place so far up the food chain at holding company level."
Rival agency chiefs professed not to be disappointed that the deal was off, despite speculation that they had been looking forward to picking off dissatisfied clients from POG.
Bell Pottinger chairman Lord Bell said: "It’s very difficult to get terribly excited about something that hasn’t happened and isn’t going to happen."
"I’m completely indifferent," said GolinHarris international president Matt Neale. "It doesn’t affect GH’s strategy in any way."
However, Blue Rubicon chief innovation officer Craig Le Grice indicated he was pleased as the longer the big holding companies stay separate, the better the quality of the industry’s work should be.
"It provides more choice for clients who require a global network, more competition (which, I think, drives better work) and prevents total polarisation of the industry where just two listed companies – grown by accountants through acquisitions – become the Goliath to a large pool of Davids."
As we show below, agency mergers and acquisitions have far from stood still during the 10 months since Publicis and Omnicom announced their marriage plans.
Publicis Groupe has been more active than Omnicom, which is understandable given its comparative lack of PR resource. Omnicom owns many more agencies than the French group’s MSL, including international networks Ketchum, FleishmanHillard and Porter Novelli.
M&A adviser Jim Houghton, a partner at Results International, said that the two groups were heading in totally different directions.
"From an M&A perspective Publicis has been looking to grow as big and as fast as possible, with a view to doing more digital work in Asia, while Omnicom is not wired that way. Omnicom’s view of the world is to create massive shareholder value by delivering consistent quarterly growth and it doesn’t go aggressively after things in the same way."
Done deals: the PR tie-ups that did happen during the 10-month Omnipub saga
Here is who bought whom between the mega-merger's announcement in July 2013 and its collapse in May 2014, starting with the giants:
- Publicis bought Indian integrated agency Beehive Communications in October 2013
- WPP bought into South African strategic comms agency Cerbera in November 2013
- Omnicom’s Ketchum bought Singaporean PR agency Icon in November 2013
- Publicis added US-based healthcare analytics firm Verilogue to Publicis Healthcare Communications in December 2013
- Publicis added US public affairs agency Qorvis to MSLGroup in January 2014
- WPP’s H+K Strategies bought Chinese digital creative agency Rice5 in March 2014
- Interpublic’s Weber Shandwick bought Swedish PR agency Prime in May 2014
And then the smaller players:
- UK PR agency MHP (owned by Engine Group) bought into Hong Kong financial and corporate PR agency The Consultancy in August 2013
- China’s BlueFocus completed the purchase of 19.8 per cent of UK-based global PR group Huntsworth in October 2013
- UK ad agency CHI & Partners (49.9 per cent owned by WPP) bought UK consumer PR agency Halpern & Partners in October 2013
- US PR group MWW bought UK PR agency Parys Communications in November 2013
- China’s BlueFocus bought UK social media agency We Are Social in December 2013
- US PR agency Allison + Partners bought Chinese b2b and corporate agency Century PR in January 2014
- UK corporate agency Blue Rubicon bought UK public affairs agency Open Road in February 2014
- UK PR group Porta Communications bought UK financial PR agency Redleaf Polhill in April 2014