No Perfect Relations for Publicis. Focus on Sapient for now

07 Nov,2014


By Sandeep Puraname


So is the Paris-based marketing services conglomerate Publicis Groupe gobbling up Perfect Relations? Oui or Non, we asked our source, and were subjected to a loud No. And is it a ‘No’ or a ‘Not yet’, we asked? Short of expletives, we were told “Bilkul Nahin, Kabhi Nahin”.


Now that was something we weren’t willing to put on our headlines yesterday after we read a front-page highlighted reported in premier business daily The Economic Times. We decided to dig further, spoke to our friends at the MSLGroup who said they weren’t authorised to speak and could neither confirm or deny.


Surely there can be no smoke without fire?


Then on some probing over long-distance chatter within India and overseas, we got the inside story. Apparently there have rumours ever since a PR industry website flashed the news. While there may have been discussions with the MSL management, the suitor is clearly not MSL or parent Publicis.  Dentsu, Ominicom and WPP may be looking at buying up the agency, we are told.


But why not MSL? After all Perfect Relations is well-pedigreed, has some interesting clients including Coca-Cola and is well-networked across the country? Because, the Publicis Groupe wants to concentrate on the Sapient buy.


With Sapient, Publicis wants to up its 40 percent revenues from digital to 50 percent and it may be remembered that Sapient has nearly half its staff in India.


It’s likely that all or at least most of the digital activity of the group(e) may be converged to Sapient making it a digital superpower in India and the rest of the world.


While it didn’t need an industry forecast to do it, but with a Forrester research report saying that digital adspends will overtake those on television in two years in the US, most global media service corporations are getting their act together on the digital play. After all it’s no small reason that Publicis paid a 40 percent premium for Sapient at USD 25 a share.  According to reports, Publicis chairman Maurice Levy is reportedly looking at Sapient also being able to counter business going away to consultancies like Accenture.


In India, Sapient has been strong on acquiring talent and turning into a well-rounded creative tech firm.


Given this, it’s likely that some of the existing digital plays of the group – including in those like the MSLGroup – may not get zoned into one robust offering.  This bit is unverified, but that’s the thinking on in sections of the group. But then large networks like Leo Burnett and Publicis Worldwide have made their acquisitions so these issues need to be sorted.


So, bottomline: for the now, MSLGroup is not making any new PR buys. The bosses are content with Hanmer & Partners, 2020 PR and 2020 Social.  There’s enough and more happening more.


But aren’t the MSL bosses in town next week? We thought Olivier Fleurot will make the big announcement. Non, we were told.


Now what if we have egg on our face if all of this is proved wrong, the boss asked this writer.


We’ll know that soon.


PS: Time to compose the resignation letter? Or await that long-awaited raise?


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