Rejig time at Publicis Worldwide

30 Mar,2017


It was the day of the Effies. A few days before the announcement, we had received indications that it could happen. But then it was an announcement that was long overdue.

At the Effies itself, the new boss ensured that he’s not seen just as head of one of the arms that he led thus far.

We’re talking about Publicis Communications and Saurabh Varma. On December 16, it was announced that Varma, the Leo Burnett Group CEO South Asia, would be incharge of Publicis Communications for India.

The announcement assumed significance as Varma would also be incharge of three other major agencies: Publicis Worldwide, L&K Saatchi & Saatchi and MSLGroup and their respective subsidiaries.

While MSL wasn’t going to be much of a problem with Amit Misra being at the helm after the exit of joint head Chetan Mahajan and he would report to Varma, there could be a problem at the other two. The communique sent to us then said that Nakul Chopra, the head of Publicis Worldwide for some years and Praveen Kenneth, head of L&K Saatchi & Saatchi will not report to Varma, even as Varma was to be incharge of the agency. Hmmm.

But later it became clear. While Chopra continued to be in his position, he was no longer head of business (or overseeing the P&L).

In the case of Kenneth, his commitments with Publicisare reported to end soon. The picture will get clearer on that front in the next two quarters.

For Varma, the job on hand was tough.

Having done a clean-up at Leo Burnett, getting an all-new team (okay, okay, we are euphemising the exiting of the old guard), integrating Indigo and Orchard into the system in a bigger way, it was time to look at Publicis Worldwide.

A press release sent to us confirms the intent. Though the mainstay of the story has been tucked in at the end: Nakul Chopra, CEO, Publicis South Asia, will now be the Senior Advisor at Publicis Communications India. Chopra has spent over 20 years helming Publicis in India. He is currently President of the Advertising Agencies Association of India (coincidentally when Varma took charge at Leo Burnett, CEO Arvind Sharma was also President of the AAAI).

But along with the overhaul, there is also the announcement of the entry of Marcel from the group’s international shores to Mumbai. Marcel is a combo of a digital agency and creative boutique. Its clients include Uber, Instagram and Ray-Ban, but these aren’t coming to India with it for now.

Said Charles Georges-Picot, Global CEO, Marcel: “We are thrilled to open a new office in Mumbai. Marcel is a precious brand that we only share with like-minded people. I know that together we will create amazing work. It is what drives us at Marcel.”Marcel has offices in Paris, Sydney, New York and Sao Paolo. In India, it will be headquartered in Mumbai.

But while Marcel is good news on any day, here’s what make the March 30 announcement significant, other than the official announcement of Chopra’s advisory role: Currently, Publicis Worldwide has three agency brands – Publicis Ambience, Publicis Capital and Publicis Beehive. This will change with immediate effect.  Now, Publicis Ambience and Publicis Capital will become Publicis India. It will continue to build on the momentum of creating shareworthy ideas that impact share of wallet.

And Publicis Worldwide will have a new leadership at the helm. Srija Chatterjee (Managing Director) and SudeepGohil, (Chief Strategy Officer and Managing Partner) will join forces with Bobby Pawar, (Chief Creative Officer and Managing Director). They will run all the Publicis Worldwide operations in India, including Marcel, and report to Saurabh Varma, CEO, Publicis Communications, India.

We aren’t yet sure of who will have have the P&L responsibilities, because there’s got to be one clear leader for PublicisWW.

Speaking about the new developments, Varma said: “I believe it is the right time for Marcel to come to India. ‘Lead the change’ can only happen through a disruptive model and a world-class International-Indian team. The leadership team has been carefully put together to deliver on our ambition for Publicis Worldwide, in India.”

Chatterjee joins from MullenLowe Singapore, where she was the Global Business Director. On her new role, Chatterjee said: “When I met Saurabh and discussed the plans for Publicis, the potential and ambition for the agency left me both, excited and nervous. With its mantra of ‘Lead the Change’, and the focus on true integration across all our different platforms, I believe that Publicis is now at a crucial juncture, poised for exponential growth and recognition. I look forward to being part of this journey with Bobby, Sudeep and the team here.”

Gohil moves from 72andSunny LA, where he consulted on the agency’s Asia-Pacific plans, and led the Adidas business globally. On his appointment, Gohil said, “The Publicis team really impressed me with their bold ambitions, tenacious attitude and passion for great work – they have great clients and an enviable team. The opportunity to work with Bobby, Srija and Saurabh was a big part of my belief and excitement for the plan ahead for Publicis. All of this combined with the bold mandate for the business both locally and in the region made it an offer I couldn’t refuse.”

Echoing Varma’s sentiments on the evolution of Publicis Worldwide, Pawar added, “I am really excited for our people and our clients. We’ve been doing some cool work. With the addition of the world-class talent and global experience of Sudeep and Srija, I’m sure we will take it up a few notches. It’s game on.”

Meanwhile, Publicis Beehive will stay focussed on offering holistic marketing solutions to Indian entrepreneurial clients. SanjitShastri continues as the CEO of Publicis Beehive and will report directly to Saurabh Varma. Paritosh Srivastava, the COO at Publicis Ambience, is now COO at Marcel.

Next stop: L&K Saatchi & Saatchi.


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