Publicis Groupe’s Digitas could click here

Maurice Levy, top boss of the $5.11 billion Publicis Groupe, is clear that he has hegemonic ambitions for the brave new realm of digital advertising.

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MUMBAI: Maurice Levy, top boss of the $5.11 billion Publicis Groupe, is clear that he has hegemonic ambitions for the brave new realm of digital advertising. In his words, he wants to own this space once Publicis’ $1.3 billion of the of publicly traded, standalone digital marketing agency Digitas is sealed, which should be anytime soon.

For zoom markets like India, China, Eastern Europe, expect action to scroll through on two screens: first, Levy has recently indicated to international press that in the wake of the entire Digitas buy-up, he will look at acquiring digital firms in the above sprint-growth economies. These acquisitions are expected to come under the Digitas’ broad-width banner. So expect some digital snap-ups in India.

Expect the Digitas brand here

More vital, it is expected that the Digitas brand itself will roll into India and other world markets fairly soon, on the coat-tails of Publicis’ entrenched global network. In a world of global expectations, the luxury of launch lead times are passé. Technology bearers in particular have to hit world markets at almost the same time in harmonious concert, or risk obsolence before ever being born.

So, don’t expect a long pause before a global Digitas rollout or even an India launch, is industry opinion. Runs an article on the Clickz website: ``Publicis will leverage its global reach to expand Digitas internationally, and will absorb some of its considerable production burden.’’ Publicis Groupe India executives have told DNA Money that they are not aware of plans to bring Digitas into this market. States Nakul Chopra, MD Publicis India, “We are not in a position to give comments on Digitas. There is no coherence as yet on how Digitas will enter India.”

In any language, Digitas will be seen as a bellwether here-a sign that this still-small-fry space here is worthy of organised global greatness. Sure, there are global digital advertising units here. But never have we had a mega-watt, publicly traded, standalone specialist of the hue of a Digitas here.

Will be a win-win for digital advertising

Either way, the benefits will weigh in bountifully for the approx $70-80 million Publicis Group India and its agencies which should have direct access to Digitas, as well as for Digitas’ independent client roster here. Publicis’ Groupe’s India media agencies are Zenith Optimedia and Starcom; its full-service agencies are Leo Burnett, Publicis India and Ambience Publicis.

Consider the global skill sets that will be imported: Digitas specialises in digital and direct marketing, which embraces brand strategy, online advertising, search marketing, e-mail marketing, CRM, etc. Digitas also deals in offline direct marketing using mail, television and print. It owns Modem Media which was acquired a few years ago, and Medical Broadcasting, an agency which services the healthcare vertical. Digitas’ big-byte client roster includes many Fortune 500 names from HP, to Procter & Gamble, Heineken, General Motors, etc. And it brings global relationships with powerhouse Web platforms like MSN, Google, Yahoo, AOL to their cyber space, too.

Either way, the business potential for digital players of the magnitude of a Digitas is beyond definition. So even if a Publicis ad agency already has digital capabilities here, the likelihood of a Digitas entry with its pedigreed offerings can only be hailed.

Listen to Arvind Sharma, head of Leo Burnett India, “Digital communications accounts for business worth Rs.450-500 crore in India. Push for this area comes mainly from travel and tourism players and financial players. Both Arc and Starcom Digital cater to the digital communications space, but we are sure that Digitas would be able to bring in proprietary knowledge, much of which is not available in India.” Time for things to click here.

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