Omnicom and Publicis are Merging. Fuck.

/ Comments (14)

That news seemed like as good a time as any to return to my column, for the foreseeable future.

I’m sure you’re all way more informed than I am. No doubt, I am coming very late to this party. But when I heard the news that those two giant ad groups were merging, the only word I could bring forth from my filthy mouth was the four-letter one I so heavily rely upon. Day in. Day out.


It can mean many things. Just like “fuggedaboutit” in Donnie Brasco (a vastly unappreciated movie) means everything from “Raquel Welch is one great piece of ass” to “a Lincoln is better than a Cadillac,” fuck can mean many things to me.

And in this case, it means, “well, there goes the fucking industry.”

The healthy spirit of competition is one of the factors that drives people to do great work. It’s not the only reason, but it’s out there. “Christ, we have to do better work than Dipshit, Dickhead and Douche or we’ll never win this account.”

It’s also a way to encourage differing perspectives and creative approaches. Some agencies thrive when they're working on certain accounts, like booze or cars. Others, they’re more into health-conscious clients and environmentally friendly products.

Now, with Omnicom and Publicis merging, there is even less choice out there.

For the record, Omnicom owns:

BBDO Worldwide
DDB Worldwide (including Tribal Worldwide)
TBWA\ Worldwide (which in turn owns Integer, Being, DAN, Tequila and a bunch more)
Element 79
Goodby, Silberstein & Partners
Martin | Williams
Merkley & Partners
Roberts + Langer
Zimmerman Advertising

Plus dozens of customer relation management firms, media firms and more.

They own a fucking lot.

Now, they’re merging with Publicis. They own over 1,200 agencies around the world including:

Leo Burnett Worldwide
Publicis Worldwide
Saatchi & Saatchi
Bartle Bogle Hegarty
Fallon Worldwide
Burrell Communications Group
Bromley Communications

And again, another bunch of agencies too numerous to mention here.

Anyone scared or dismayed, yet?

With one group controlling so much of the advertising, marketing and media in the world, where will the diversity come from?

Where will we see the new ideas? The ones that challenge convention and break with the established order of things?

Where will real creativity emerge?

The simple answer is, it won’t. Or at least, it won't have the same chance.

As the advertising world becomes more and more homogenized, the solutions offered will become just as bland.

Big companies will not see the need to shop around for the best digital agencies, the best media, the best public relations, and the best advertising shops. Why should they? Now, in the MegaOmniPubliCom Advertising Warehouse, it’s all under one enormous fucking roof.

It’s like the Costco in Mike Judge’s Idiocracy, where you can buy shit sofas, Starbucks handjobs and law degrees without ever venturing past the broken front door.

Want media? We got it. Want digital? We got that too. Advertising? No problem. Events? Easy. Want to spend less time assembling a diverse, creative and powerful network of agencies to service your corporation? No problem. Just give the MegaOmniPubliCom Advertising Warehouse your business, and go play 18 rounds of golf. We’ve got your back.

This is just what the agency world didn’t need. The smaller, more creative shops still managing to scrape a living will be hard-pressed to offer the range of services that the MegaOmniPubliCom Advertising Warehouse can offer. They will have a difficult time matching responsiveness and price, too.

Just like conglomerates pushed out small businesses in our towns and cities, so too will this massive merger spell the end for the boutique shops who cannot compete with this kind of assault.

All we need now is for WPP to join the party, and we can pack up everything and go home. A bunch of rich fat cats will get richer, ad agencies will report to the same overpaid bosses, and the chance to do some breakthrough work will dry up faster than Paris Hilton’s pussy at a World of Warcraft convention.

With all the agencies out there, it may seem like we have a ton of choices. But with so few people actually pulling the strings, all we really have is the illusion of choice.

The advertising industry will pump out the same controlled messages that the media currently dishes out from just a few outlets.

And before you know it, we’re all insignificant cogs in one enormous advertising machine. Its only goal…to mass-produce mediocrity and reward those at the top with paychecks they couldn’t spend in ten lifetimes.


Felix is a site contributor, ranter and curmudgeon for The Denver Egotist. He’s been in the ad game a long time, but he’s still young enough to know he doesn’t know everything. If he uses the f-bomb from time-to-time, forgive him. Sometimes, when you're ranting, no other word will do. In his spare time, he does not torture small animals. He's been known, on occasion, to drink alcohol by the gallon. Do as he says, not as he does.


You forgot to mention that Omnicom also owns Integer, a Denver based company.

ideas and creativity don't come from the Omnicom or Publicis headquarters. They never have and they are not about to start now.

No I didn't. How could I forget that, I know too many people who work there.

"For the record, Omnicom owns:

BBDO Worldwide
DDB Worldwide (including Tribal Worldwide)
TBWA\ Worldwide (which in turn owns Integer, Being, DAN, Tequila and a bunch more)"

Anonymous, I agree to a point. Of course there are great ideas out there, that don't come from these giant firms. But the more these mergers happen, the less likely they are to see the light of day.

AdAge discussed this yesterday, but I am wondering if the multiple client conflicts across the networks will create opportunities for smaller agencies.

Yeah, I've gotta disagree. All these shops were held before, and now they're still held. I'd be very surprised if it affects the 'diversity' of creative any more than the idea of a holding company does to begin with.

There are bigger ramifications than merely the diversity of creative.

The truth is more that this merger is indicative of a fundamental shift within our industry from creative to data.

It used to be branding that drove campaigns. Big ideas. Customer connections.

More and more, data is the driver. SEM campaigns target and execute on data platforms, and the wisdom of the algorithm is all you need to make people click.

It used to be that the most creative shop was the winner.

Soon it'll be the shop with the most access to user data.

Soon Goodby and Crispin won't be the gold standard, but Facebook, Google and Marketo.

Scary, indeed.

I'm curious about the client conflicts - Coke, Pepsi, McDonald's, Taco Bell, Johnson & Johnson and Procter & Gamble will be under the same umbrella.

This merger couldn't excite me more. It's better than sex.

uh, Widen + Kennedy is independent and they smoke every one of those agencies you listed above. I assure you, the Coca-Colas and Procter and Gambles of the world would much rather work with those guys than the others.

If anything, consolidation creates opportunity for smart entrepreneurs to create MORE independent agencies that have the flexibility to do things like bust the pay scale for top talent, etc.

I see this is a an opportunity for smaller shops to come in and steal business from these giants. Having worked at several of these shops I can tell you that they are large, lumbering oafs. It is only a matter of time before they start to fall on their face.

WPP & IPG merger is not far

"Where will we see the new ideas? The ones that challenge convention and break with the established order of things?"

Don't worry. We're barely seeing that now.

"The smaller, more creative shops still managing to scrape a living"

You mean the shops that are killing each other to work for Pepsi-Co and McBurger? Those small shops? There is no correlation between the size of an agency and the mass of their creative output.

"The advertising industry will pump out the same controlled messages that the media currently dishes out from just a few outlets."

The ad industry hasn't done much to challenge conventional wisdom lately. Those days are long gone. Clients don't want originality, they don't care about your ideology or your creative lust. They want what everyone else has and they want it to look (almost) exactly the same.

Not gonna happen easily. 46 countries need to approve this deal Forty. Six. Including merger-hating France (home of Publicis). Good luck with that.

This isn't about creative. It is about data. And that's what ought to scare creatives. It's not about WK kicking everyone's ass with commercials all the creatives love. It's about mass scale to deliver bigger data in the face of social media and search.

Again: Not about us creatives. We're the stuff they're throwing under the bus as they chase after the data. Don't believe me? Check the help-wanted ads for creatives, after filtering out any experience in digital. Good luck, Don Draper.

Loved Wren's between the lines comment in the WSJ article about how most of the jobs in his company can be automated when everything goes programmatic in a few years. Let's hope the 130,000 employees who just had their careers threatened by the chief don't read that newspaper. Can anyone atop the largest communications company in the world be more inept at......communicating?

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Link = <a href="">This is your text</a>
  • Image = <img src="http://imageurl.jpg" />
  • Bold = <strong>Your Text</strong>
  • Italic = <em>Your Text</em>
Rocket Fuel