Publicis bangs data drum as Epsilon deal is finalised

publicisPublicis Groupe has shaved $450m (£360m) off the price of data-driven marketing giant Epsilon, closing the deal for a final “bargain” figure of $3.95bn (£3.1bn), compared to the original $4.4bn (£3.4bn) price tag.

Even so, the deal is still claimed to be the third-largest in the ad sector over the past 35 years, beaten only by WPP’s whopping $5.7bn (£4.5bn) purchase of Y&R in 2000 and Dentsu’s $4.9bn (£3.9bn) deal with Aegis in 2012.

Epsilon will continue to operate as an independent division, with CEO Bryan Kennedy running the business. However, he will join the Publicis Executive Committee and report directly to Publicis CEO Arthur Sadoun.

For his part, Sadoun claims the combined group now has “data capabilities that are second to none”, insisting that “[the deal] propels the Groupe as the global leader of personalised experiences at scale.”

The superlatives kept on flowing as Sadoun added: “With the addition of Epsilon’s capabilities in data to our existing creative, media and technology firepower, we have all the necessary assets and talent to help our clients leapfrog their competition and grow profitably, in a data-led, digital-first world.

“Our clients will benefit from a seamless, end-to-end service to solve all their marketing and transformation challenges across creative, media, data and technology. Our focus in the next months will be to successfully execute the integration while implementing our model, the Power of One, with our clients.”

Sadoun claimed that “client feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, showing a huge amount of interest and demand that we will now be able to address. All of this gives us great confidence for the future”.

However, in a turn of phrase that is likely to have BBH co-founder and dyed-in-the-wool adman Sir John Hegarty crying onto his scamps, Publicis is banging the data-driven drum very hard.

Some might struggle to interpret the sentence: “Publicis will leverage Epsilon’s customer insights to improve ideation and build more relevant campaigns, and will power Epsilon’s Dynamic Creative Engine to adapt to real-time consumer context.”

But Hegarty should be in little doubt; his mantra that “data creates nothing” has now been consigned to the dustbin.

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