Gougoux sells BCP to Publicis
March 05, 2013 | Chris Powell | Comments
He’s still chairman, but Gougoux reduces his day-to-day industry involvement
After 38 years, Quebec advertising legend Yves Gougoux felt the time was right to step away from the day-to-day demands of the industry.
Gougoux announced Tuesday that he has sold both his 30% ownership stake in Publicis Canada and his 100% ownership stake in Montreal agency BCP to Publicis Worldwide, a unit of the French holding company Publicis Groupe. Financial terms were not disclosed.
“I wanted to evolve my role to have a bit more time for myself and for my family, but also to have a bit more time to do what I like to do within the agency business, which is getting involved strategically with a client, getting involved in creative reviews, helping the team with new business and thinking more long-term strategically for the agency,” said Gougoux.
“That requires time, so I just wanted to change my role and change the pace.”
Gougoux, 62, said he has been pondering the move for a couple of years, particularly as Publicis has solidified its position as one of Canada’s leading agency networks. Aligning with Publicis Worldwide provides BCP with access to key resources, he said.
“The future is in good hands, having the network resources, both human and financial, to accelerate [BCP’s] growth and help the clients of Publicis Worldwide have a second national agency available to them,” said Gougoux. “The clients are solid, the staff is loaded with talent, and the opportunities are so great, I thought it was a good time for me to combine my personal objectives and allow my team to shine and move forward with the agency.”
It is the end of an era for BCP, which became Canada’s first Francophone agency when the late Jacques Bouchard opened its doors in 1963. The agency would go on to play a formative role in the emergence of the Quebec advertising industry before being acquired by Gougoux in 1984.
Publicis Canada and BCP will continue to operate as two separate entities, with Andrew Bruce assuming the new role of CEO of Publicis Canada. Alain Bergeron will continue as president of BCP, a role he assumed in 2010. Gougoux will remain as chairman of both Publicis and BCP.
Bruce has done an “incredible job” with the management of Publicis, said Gougoux, growing it into one of Canada’s leading networks. The agency currently employs just under 500 employees at offices in Montreal, Toronto, Windsor and Calgary.
Bruce said the change means that the onus of the day-to-day operation of Publicis falls on him, albeit with continued input from Gougoux. “Yves knows how to run a business, but he also has a deep passion for clients, for creativity and for growth,” said Bruce. “This is about him coming to a point in his career where he can pursue the things that he wants to do, and it’s my job to take all the other things about running an agency off his hands.
“I have Yves as a friend and partner to bounce ideas off and talk to, but [the challenges of running an agency] are not going to sit on his plate alone.” The two men will continue to have daily conversations and bounce ideas off each other, said Bruce. “We’re tied at the hip,” he said.
Asked about the future direction for Publicis, Bruce said he is committed to building a “non-line” agency that reflects how consumers move seamlessly between digital and non-digital environments.
“Consumers these days don’t consciously live in an online world and an offline world,” said Bruce. “We’ve set ourselves up as agencies to be online and offline. We call ourselves integrated agencies, but I think they’re all a little misguided as to where the consumer is going.”
Tuesday’s announced came just one day after it was announced that another of Canada’s leading independent agencies, John St., had been sold to WPP, and continues an ongoing trend that has seen other successful Canadian agencies including Zig and Taxi acquired by multinationals. Gougoux said the moves don’t signify the end of Canadian independent shop.
“One of the options is always to say ‘We’re going to continue [as an independent],’ but the point is there’s a limit,” said Gougoux. “If you want to have a boutique-type agency that corresponds to your objectives that’s fine, but I think the ambition of the BCP team is big.
“There are a lot of challenges in today’s [agency] world, and you need to have worldwide expertise, you need to understand the trends and you need to understand best practices and have people who have done it elsewhere in the world to accelerate your growth. I thought it was the most unselfish thing to do was connect the agency with the Publicis Groupe.”
Jean-Yves Naouri, executive chairman of Publicis Worldwide and chief operating officer of Publicis Groupe, said that BCP represents a “legend” in the Canadian – and particularly Quebec – advertising worlds.
“We are thrilled to have some of this attitude within Publicis,” said Naouri, who has worked alongside Gougoux since the mid-1990s. “We are a network of strong people and this network is built around inspirational players. BCP is a legend for us.”
Naouri said the immediate priority is organizing a “proper transition” of BCP to the Publicis Worldwide network and strengthening the agency’s capabilities – particularly in the area of digital, which is a key area of focus for the company.
Asked if he envisioned global expansion for BCP, Naouri said: “It will never be a fully-fledged network like Publicis. We already have a number of networks that we call mini-networks or multi-hubs, but it is always built around client needs,” he said. “We are a client-focused organization and we’ll [meet] the expectations and the needs of BCP clients.”