Publicis boosts MSLGroup in DC with Qorvis buy

Publicis Groupe has acquired Qorvis Communications with plans to merge it into the MSLGroup network.

Publicis boosts MSLGroup in DC with Qorvis buy

WASHINGTON: Publicis Groupe said Friday that it has acquired Qorvis Communications with plans to merge it into the MSLGroup network.

With about 100 staffers in Washington, DC, Qorvis will boost MSLGroup's presence in the capital, said Renee Wilson, North American president at the Publicis firm.

“If anything, this makes us one of the top firms in DC with the acquisition of Qorvis. It enhances our capabilities overall and offers new talent,” she said. “DC is an important market, and this very much enhances our public affairs presence, as [MSLGroup's] global service network is very strong around the world.”

Founded in 2000, Qorvis counts nations, organizations, and international brands among its clients, including AAMCO, Cisco Systems, and the Mayo Clinic. In 2010, the most recent year for which Qorvis reported its earnings for the PRWeek Agency Business Report, the firm's revenues increased 20% to $29.7 million.

“[Qorvis has] people who have managed campaigns for political leaders and others have spent significant time at the White House and on Capitol Hill,” Wilson added. “They launched Al-Jazeera America, the most important independent media in the last five years.”

Michael Petruzzello

The two firms' combined operations in Washington will operate under the Qorvis MSLGroup banner, with Qorvis managing partner Michael Petruzzello serving as president. He will also be the firm's North American public affairs practice director, reporting to Wilson.

Shellie Winkler had been serving as interim MD of MSLGroup's Washington, DC, office since last summer after former DC managing director and US public affairs leader Neil Dhillon left the agency.

As part of the deal, MSLGroup has also acquired Clarus Research Group, which is led by Ronald Faucheux, a public opinion and public affairs analyst. Faucheux will play a leadership role in MSLGroup's planning and analytics services in North America, it said in the statement.

“We built this agency from the ground up over the past 14 years, and over the last couple of years, I saw we needed a broader international network to have strength in New York, London, and especially Asia. MSL was the perfect fit for us to be strong in all of those places,” Petruzzello said. “Our clients have been asking us to provide more services nationally and internationally. The public affairs issues we work on don't really stop at national borders anymore.” 

MSLGroup is the flagship PR agency of Publicis Groupe, which is in the process of merging with one-time rival holding company Omnicom Group. The combination will create the world's largest marketing umbrella firm with a total market capitalization of about $35 billion, surpassing current number one holding company WPP Group.

The merger has passed regulatory hurdles in the US, Canada, India, Turkey, South Africa, and South Korea, among other countries. Just this week, the European Commission, the European Union's antitrust body, signed off on the pending merger, concluding it would not raise competition concerns.

The combined Publicis Omnicom Group's agencies would include MSLGroup and Kekst and Company from the Publicis side, as well as former Omnicom firms FleishmanHillard, Ketchum, Porter Novelli, Marina Maher Communications, and Cone Communications. The holding companies planned to establish a PR subcommittee to determine the future structure of the PR and communications brands and assets.

MSLGroup itself was formed through a combination of various agencies under the Publicis umbrella, including MS&L Worldwide, Publicis Consultants Worldwide, and Publicis Events in late 2009. The firm saw global revenue of between $450 million and $500 million in 2012, including $150 million to $200 million in the US. It reported a global headcount of more than 3,400.

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