The announcement follows the recent departure of Mark Hass, former CEO of MS&L. Eric Giuily has also stepped down as CEO of Publicis Consultants. In addition, John Farrell, president and CEO of SAMS announced his resignation last summer, and he will step down July 1, 2009. According to Fleurot, Farrell is helping to manage the transition.
“There were different activities that were all put into the SAMS name,” Fleurot said. “What we're doing now is giving more visibility to PR, public affairs, and events activities by having them in a separate entity.”
Fleurot, former CEO of the Financial Times Group, joined Publicis as executive chairman in 2006. Richard Pinder, COO of Publicis Worldwide, will step in to fill Fleurot's previous role, as well as join Publicis Groupe's executive committee, P12.
Maurice Levy, Publicis chairman and CEO, said in a statement announcing Fleurot's appointment that, “These steps are all part of the goal to simplify our organization in order to make it more efficient for our clients, more profitable, all while aiming for more dynamic growth.”
While Fleurot is head of all of Publicis' PR businesses, the current CEOs of the company's other PR operations, such as Kekst & Co and Freud Communications, will continue in their roles and “keep a direct relationship with Maurice [Levy].”
Fleurot denied an earlier report that suggested the changes might be precursor to merging Publicis' PR businesses. He said it was “certainly not the brief that I got from Maurice [Levy].”
“I believe that if we have strong brands, we should use them,” Fleurot added. “Very often, merging entities doesn't work.”
Rather, Fleurot has embarked on a worldwide tour to learn more about the businesses where his focus is on “growth” and “transformation,” especially in social media. VivaKi, which launched in June 2008, brought together the digital capabilities of Digitas, Starcom Mediavest, and the group's other digital operations. Fleurot said he'd like to “build bridges” between the PR businesses, Vivaki, and the Vivaki Nerve Center, which develops tools for more effective use of social networks.
“A lot of people I've talked to in the last 24 hours are very excited,” said Fleurot. “They felt they were a bit hidden within that big entity called SAMS.”
Jim Tsokanos, president of MS&L North America, agreed.
“With his appointment, that makes PR a priority for the group [because he is] a P12 member,” he said.
Tsokanos and MS&L's other two regional presidents, Anders Kempe, president of MS&L Europe, and Glenn Osaki, president of Asia Pacific, will continue in their roles.