Publicis Groupe China is bringing BBH, which has operated independently under the Groupe since its acquisition in 2012, into the folds of the network for the first time—a move designed to better share resources between agencies.
Update 2pm HK time: Publicis Groupe has now announced a similar change in India, Campaign India reports.
While staff of BBH China remain unchanged, Publicis Groupe has formed a new leadership team to oversee the newly integrated business in China. The BBH brand will remain fully intact, the company said.
The move comes just a month after the company announced the departure of Charles Wigley, longtime APAC chairman of BBH, from the agency and APAC.
"BBH China was relatively independent from Publicis Groupe," Jane Lin-Baden, managing partner, APAC and CEO for North Asia, told Campaign in a interview. "Publicis Groupe China will form a creative council with this change, to share resources across all the brands."
Arto Hampartsoumian, current executive chairman of BBH China, has been promoted to managing partner and executive chairman of Publicis Groupe China, with immediate effect. In his new role, he will oversee all creative agency brands of Publicis Groupe China, including BBH, Saatchi & Saatchi, Leo Burnett, Publicis Worldwide, MSL, Publicis Luxe, Prodigious, and others.
He will work closely with Cary Huang, the recently appointed CEO of Publicis Media and Digital, on integrated solutions.
Hampartsoumian will be based in Shanghai and will report directly to Lin-Baden, who said of his appointment: "Arto’s solid on ground experience in China, passion for creativity and inclusive leadership style make him the right leader to build a creative power-house that inspires the best Chinese and international creative talent. I look forward to seeing a new energy emerge under Arto’s leadership."
Hampartsoumian said "the time has come" for BBH to be "smarter and more efficient in our business through consolidation and collaboration".
"For BBH China, consolidating into Publicis Groupe only makes us all stronger. It allows us to close the gap between creative and media, as well as stay ahead of the evolving digital landscape," he said. "I’m thrilled for the opportunity to work with the Groupe’s creative agency brands in China to redefine the industry business model, an evolution which will benefit our clients and make our creativity ever more powerful."
BBH China’s current CEO, Christine Ng, will continue leading BBH China, but will take on the additional responsibility of leading Publicis Worldwide Shanghai. Ng was the founding member of BBH in both Asia and China, with 15 years’ experience in China. She will also continue reporting to Hampartsoumian.
Due to family reasons, Michael Lee, Publicis Groupe Greater China co-CEO, has decided to resign after nearly a decade working in China. He is exploring opportunities within the Groupe in other markets.
Meanwhile, Fanny Yum will exit her duties as CEO of Publicis Worldwide Shanghai and managing partner of Publicis Communications Shanghai. She will support the transition of Publicis Worldwide to Christine Ng, the agency said. She is exploring other opportunities with the Groupe in China.
Lin-Baden commented: "I want to express my sincere thanks to Michael for his contribution to the Groupe in Greater China for all these years. Thanks also go to Fanny for her contribution to Publicis Worldwide for the last one year."
In a statement provided to Campaign Asia-Pacific, Neil Munn, global CEO of BBH, said that the decision comes from "constantly re-evaluating the best way for us to serve up BBH creative excellence".
"In evolving markets like China and India it is increasingly clear that this is best delivered as part of a larger scale offering," he said. "That is why we are combining forces more closely with Publicis Groupe in how we go to market."
Munn added that there will be no changes to the operational setup at BBH Singapore. "In Singapore, we have consistently shown that our business and our brand can excel as a standalone entity,” he said.