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BW Businessworld

Eyes Bigger Than Tummy?

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So, here’s one union that broke up before reaching the altar. After all the song and dance over the ‘Merger of Equals’, the $35-billion mega size Publicis-Omnicom deal has been called off. Tax issues, regulatory issues and the unwillingness to compromise were deal breakers.

Rival WPP’s Sir Martin Sorrell, whose network, the largest in the ad world, would have been overtaken in size had the deal materialised, quickly commented: “In the end it was a case of eyes bigger than tummy.”

The general reaction from the ad community has been one of relief. Jobs will be saved, the fears surrounding a behemoth lording over the ad world have now been allayed.

The larger lesson here is that it is easy to announce such deals, but the actual integration is a nightmare of a process. Especially, when two different cultures and work styles are at play. 

It has also re-opened the size versus speed debate. In advertising, especially, speed is essential, and the whole deal was with an eye to ramp up the digital capability of the two entities. But when internal operational issues could not be resolved in nine months, how could the merged entity have handled clients?

Then, again, deals are a reality in today’s competitive world. Within a few hours of the news of this deal being called off, speculation was rife: will Publicis or Omnicom now make a bid for the smaller Interpublic?  

(This story was published in BW | Businessworld Issue Dated 02-06-2014)