The Publicis Omnicom Merger Has Nothing To Do With Advertising

Emily Amato

This post is courtesy of Jonathan Salem Baskin and originally appeared on Forbes.

Though received as big news for the advertising industry, the merger between Publicis and Omnicom announced yesterday has nothing to do with advertising. There’s much we marketers should be talking about.

Simply put, the world (and, more specifically, clients) won’t get better advertising because of the deal. The stuff may be worse. I know, the announcement came with all of the blather about leverage and growing markets, but if you look just beneath the pretty spin, there’s no there there. The companies’ constituent agencies are already in those markets, and nobody has every confused the crushing weight of bureaucracy with better anything.

The newly-merged company’s stable of storied industry names will be formidable, including Saatchi & Saatchi, BBDO, Leo Burnett, and a host of wacky-named digital firms. But how the merger will empower them to perform more effectively is anybody’s guess. You don’t need to formally employ 130,000 people to harness their creative power; in fact, you could argue that a formal structure could impede collaboration. More to the point, those agencies are competitors with one another, so becoming fellow captive brands of a huge holding company might amount to little more than a tax on their performance.

Imagine you’re one of the agency’s clients, and ask yourself how the merger will impact the work product you buy. If your best answer is that it won’t have any, well, Q.E.D.

Then there was the promise that the new combo would create $500 million in savings, which is code for layoffs. The other way the company realizes those savings is if it can extract lower prices for the media it buys — a larger spend generally gets the better deals, just like in borrowing from banks — but it’s unlikely those dollars will stay in clients’ coffers.

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