ADVERTISING & PROMOTION: Agency of the week; publicis

Having shot up the Register-MEAL billings league from 11 to six, Publicis is now snapping at the heels of the real big boys - Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, J Walter Thompson, BMP-DDB, Saatchi & Saatchi and Ogilvy & Mather - and appears to be reaping the benefits of consistency.

Having shot up the Register-MEAL billings league from 11 to six,

Publicis is now snapping at the heels of the real big boys - Abbott Mead

Vickers BBDO, J Walter Thompson, BMP-DDB, Saatchi & Saatchi and Ogilvy &

Mather - and appears to be reaping the benefits of consistency.

When everyone else was diversifying, Publicis stuck to being a

straightforward ad agency. That positioning, combined with the return of

former creative director Gerry Moira and a stable UK management team,

has led to the agency’s winning streak in 1996 - ironically, the year

which saw the death of the agency’s founder, Marcel Bleustein-Blachet.

The agency’s work on KP and Renault continues to make headlines

(although the irritating Megane talking-car commercials cannot even

begin to rival the style of the Clio work), along with Asda, which puts

Publicis towards the top of Adwatch this week.

Asda advertising has always achieved enormously high awareness and,

although regularly outspent by its rivals, equally regularly outperforms

them - a fact Ric Bendel credits to the agency’s consistent ‘pocket-tap

and permanently-low prices’ advertising, developed six years ago with

Asda boss Archie Norman.

Consistency again. It crops up everywhere and that, says Bendel, is no

accident. But although much of the agency’s growth has come quietly from

existing clients, Publicis has also had a controversial year, forcing a

very public re-structuring of its deal with True North, the FCB holding

company, which created a tied venture between the two agencies several

years ago.

Publicis, led by dynamic group chairman Maurice Levy, felt it had

outgrown the deal and insisted on developing Publicis into a global

force by setting up agencies in markets where FCB was traditionally


Publicis’s new-business success with Coca-Cola and British Airways has

shown that a French network can compete with the best internationally,

and Bendel is determined to make the most of it. His immediate goal for

1997 is to consolidate this year’s triumphs by moving into the UK top


In an advertising environment where so many agencies are trying to be so

many things to so many people, Publicis is doggedly sticking to its

traditional image. Bendel says he has no intention of widening the remit

and ‘chasing rainbows’. Firstly, it is tiring. Secondly, there is rarely

a pot of gold at the end - and nothing less than gold will do.




Projected billings (1996) pounds 210m

Wins (1996) Scholl, Allied Bakeries, Guinness Kilkenny, Diet Coke and

Cherry Coke, Inmarsat, KP-Roysters, Oracle (special projects), Thomson

Electronics, Mercantile Credit, Phileas Fogg, Whitehall Laboratories

(Advil and Centrum), Hewlett-Packard, Canadian Tourism Commission

Losses (1996) Intel, Tia Maria, Anadin

Key clients Asda, Coca-Cola, Renault, MFI, Hewlett-Packard, KP, Guinness

Key people Ric Bendel and Dan O’Donoghue (joint chief executives), Gerry Moira (executive creative director)



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