Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 15th 2013 Contents BG6 | NEWS
BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt AUGUST 2013 • WEEK THREE
The merger of global advertising
agencies Publicis and Omni-
com into the Publicis Omni-
com Group in early August
would have a positive effect
on Publicis Caribbean, said
Patrick Johnstone, chief executive officer,
Publicis Caribbean Ltd.
"In the immediate instance, it probably
does not affect us much. What is does, inter-
estingly, is to bring to play alignments that
were not there before. TBWA, which is not
represented here, but is part of the Omnicom
Group, is the principal world wide agency
for Nissan, yet we recently acquired Nissan
as a client and now we can talk with TBWA
to a greater degree," Johnstone said.
He said what s positive is that Publicis
Caribbean now has the backing of a large
group with resources and expertise.
"What it does for us is it allows us the
ability to bring to the fore a combined world
entity that is now number one with combined
expertise and offer that expertise, best prac-
tices, proprietary tools, right here to any
client. It means if you want to know what
is happening in China in terms of car tyres,
I can be in contact with our partners there
to know what works for them," he said.
The merger between France s Publicis and
the United States Omnicom makes the group
the biggest in the world with combined 2012
revenue of US$23 billion.
"The second in line is now WPP, which
was formerly number one, and McCann
Group falls into position number three," he
Johnstone called the merger an "inevitable
"The world players are looking for more
clout. The consolidation is a significant finan-
cial gain for the shareholders. The two entities
getting together provide a combined expert-
ise. It means the possibility of more media
clout. In the digital domain, it means the
ability to be more influential in data man-
Given the state of the international econ-
omy, he said the advertising industry has
survived and is recovering.
"There are markets in the Far East and
markets, like Brazil, that are doing well. There
is also a huge transition to digital media."
Johnstone spoke to the Business Guardian
last Thursday at his office, Dundonald Street,
Johnstone said Publicis Caribbean started
"It made a lot of sense to start a Publicis
agency with representation for Nestlé in the
Caribbean. And not only for Nestlé, but for
other accounts as well. At that time, Publicis
was building a large network since they were
largely European based. By 2003, it was the
fourth largest worldwide group," he said.
Now, Publicis Caribbean is largely locally
"We began representation as a full blown
Publicis agency in 2000. We eventually
reduced their equity to a minimum. We are
still representing them but as an affiliate.
The principals in this entity now hold the
majority shareholding. We can now say that
Publicis Caribbean is a majority T&T-owned
He said they are in charge of operations
for the entire English-speaking Caribbean.
"From T&T, it is possible to plan and place
business in 24 territories. This excludes the
Latin American and French Caribbean but
does include Aruba and Curacao. The entire
Latin American Group is another zone."
He said Publicis Caribbean is at number
five in market share in the local market out
of 16 players.
"We are one of the youngest agencies that
entered in 2000 as opposed to other major
players that have been around for almost
three times that period. We had the backing
of our parent company and had the philos-
ophy of focusing on special clients and treat-
ing them well and allowed us to grow rap-
Johnstone said Publicis Caribbean treats
its clients as "partners." Some of its clients
include Nestlé, Nissan, Carib, Republic Bank,
Flow, LLB for Angostura and Universal Foods.
"Our objective was to acquire a small num-
ber of important clients and serve them well
as opposed to a very big client list that we
would be distracted with. So the quality of
our service would be confined to a smaller
number of people we could do well."
Instead of focusing on having a wide range
of clients, the company has focused on build-
ing relationships with its core clients.
"For us, it not about size as we are part
of a worldwide group. If you were to go by
size, you can say there are agencies that are
bigger than us, employ more people, have
more clients. Our aspiration has always been
excellent clients that we have excellent rela-
Johnstone said T&T s advertising market
has not been growing.
"While we might say that our economy
may be looking okay and we are picking up
and business, in general, is not doing too
badly, the advertising agency is not growing.
We are actually in a shrinking situation
because there are the same players in a dimin-
Johnstone said there has been no significant
business in recent years.
"The last thing we saw was the influx of
the telecommunication category with bur-
geoning cellular business, like Digicel and
TSTT, spawning into bmobile. All of this cre-
ated significant revenues for us. But that was
the last time and it was five years ago or
He estimates the entire local advertising
industry to be worth $1 billion.
"We have a captive media based of roughly
half a billion as an industry. When you add
to it fees and production, it might be a little
over a billion, of which you have 16 players
in the industry in T&T which shares in this
He said with a slower economy, clients
become more conservative in the way they
spend. He defined the market as "highly
competitive and aggressive."
"Advertising budgets have become more
conservative and it means there is a volume
that is shrinking marginally that the same
players must work within and employ the
same people and make it work," Johnstone
said. "It is not an easy time for us."
Evolution of trends
Johnstone said the digital era and social
media are changing the face of the industry,
although traditional media still has a role.
"The future is definitely a transition to
digital. We have a digital unit, which engages
in social media. Communication is changing
where you will end up with something in
your hand. At the end of the day, everything
you are accessing is via mobile or online. It
goes beyond putting an ad on Facebook. It
is now a business that is much of people s
lives. In the 1980s, we informed the consumer;
today, it is the reverse. Consumers are the
ones engaging us."
He said the parent company s acquisitions
in the last decade have been mostly in the
"The developed world has influenced us
to know where we are going. I think we are
usually five years behind the developed world
when it comes to social media. Things evolve
in a sophisticated market faster than they do
He said the company is confident about
its future and market position because of the
"We bring the expertise of a huge world
group that at a moment we can find out
information so it brings a global point of
view to the table. So if a client talks to us,
we can use this to influence the Caribbean
and through our network, translate that,"
Merger of Publicis and Omnicom:
CEO in T&T:
New group brings
Publicis Omnicom Group
Proposed name: Publicis Omnicom
Headquarters: The company will be
headquartered in the Netherlands, with
the group's operational office in Paris and
New York. The location choice is neutral
and offers tax advantages.
Combined revenue (2012): US$23 bil-
Total number of employees: more
Stock information: Publicis Omnicom
Group is expected to be listed on the
NYSE and Euronext Paris, traded under
the symbol OMC and to be included in
the S&P 500 and the CAC 40, a French
stock market index.
Selected major shared clients: John-
son & Johnson, Mars, McDonald's, Pfizer,
Procter & Gamble.
Efficiency goals: Aiming for US$500
million realised due to operating syner-
gies. That is likely going to require consol-
idation of real estate, companies and
possible headcount elimination.
chief executive officer,
Publicis Caribbean Ltd
PHOTO: MARCUS GONZALES
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