Publicis and Omnicom merger unites Irish firms
Advertising, media and PR agencies have combined turnover of more than €200m
The proposed merger of global communications behemoths Publicis and Omnicom, due to come into effect next year, involves a coming together of companies in Ireland with a combined annual turnover of more than €200 million.
The presence of French advertising giant Publicis Groupe in Ireland comes in the shape of minority stakes rather than majority ownership, however.
The company, headed up by Maurice Levy, has a minority shareholding in Publicis Dublin (formerly Publicis QMP), with the advertising agency based on Sir John Rogerson’s Quay majority owned by local directors (who in turn have a majority share in public relations firm Pembroke Communications).
Another company still listed among its Irish interests on the Publicis Groupe’s global website – the advertising agency Leo Burnett Associates – closed its Dublin office this year with the loss of 18 jobs.
Publicis Groupe also has a 16 per cent stake in Core Media Group, the largest media-buyer in Ireland, which was itself a consolidation of Starcom, MediaVest, ZenithOptimedia, Mediaworks, Clear Blue Water and Radical.
Internationally, Publicis Groupe has majority stakes in most of the agencies that bear its name , and the structure of affiliated but locally-owned businesses in Ireland is something of an anomaly, born of a series of mergers over the decades. However, despite the lower direct stakes, Publicis companies here have strong ties to the international business.
On the Omnicom side, Omnicom Media Group, which comprises media agencies OMD Ireland and PHD Media, is 50:50 owned by two creative agencies, Irish International Communications Group and Cawley Nea Limited. These are both owned in turn by US parent Omnicom Group Inc, while the “OMD Family” in Ireland also includes the public relations firms FleishmanHillard and Drury Communications.
Core Media has a turnover of €120 million, while Publicis Dublin has revenues of around €26 million, and Omnicom Media Group (Ireland) clocks in at €58 million, meaning those three businesses alone take the turnover of Irish companies affiliated to the planned Publicis Omnicom Group over the €200 million mark. The global revenues of the combined company will exceed €17 billion.
Concerns over obvious conflicts of interest – such as the fact that the merged group will count both Coca-Cola and Pepsi among its clients – are likely to have been ironed out with the companies involved before the deal was agreed on the basis that the new entity will maintain Chinese walls.
Meanwhile, the deal, announced on Sunday, has attracted the attention of satirists at The Onion. Its headline marking the deal – “Merger Of Advertising Giants Brings Together Largest Collection Of People With No Discernible Skills” – is naturally terribly harsh and incredibly unfair.