Ben Bold
Feb 15, 2024

Publicis Groupe renames B2B arm Octopus Group and extends reach beyond UK

Octopus Group, acquired in 2021, is to be rebranded Publicis Pro.

Publicis Pro: Chief executive Jon Lonsdale (left) and managing director Pete Hendrick.
Publicis Pro: Chief executive Jon Lonsdale (left) and managing director Pete Hendrick.

Publicis Groupe EMEA has launched a B2B creative offering called Publicis Pro, which combines B2B agency Octopus Group and 400 B2B specialists from across its global network.

Publicis Pro, which replaces the Octopus Group name, will be headed by Octopus Group co-founder Jon Lonsdale as chief executive and co-founder Pete Hendrick as managing director.

Lonsdale will report to Demet Ikiler, Publicis Groupe's EMEA chief executive.

The 60-strong core team will focus on B2B strategy, creative, influence and commerce, with a particular focus on the UK, Germany and France. Octopus previously concentrated on the UK market.

"The [launch] will enable Publicis Groupe to better connect international business audiences with new data and marketing services, accelerating growth for its global B2B and B2B2C clients and becoming a new centre of excellence across the EMEA region," the group said.

Publicis Groupe acquired London-based Octopus Group in 2021, when it cited B2B as a "big growth area" for both business-to-business and business-to-consumer clients. At the time, Octopus employed about 60 people at its Farringdon office. It became part of Publicis Groupe's UK creative practice and moved into the Chancery Lane office, where Saatchi & Saatchi and Leo Burnett were based.

Since then, Publicis Groupe said Octopus has built on its tech, telecoms, financial services, logistics and manufacturing client base, winning new business from the likes of Sharp Europe, Smartsheet, Rolls-Royce and Twilio.

At the time of the acquisition, the deal marked Publicis Groupe's most significant UK-specific M&A move in the creative space since 2014, signifying a return for adland to the acquisitions trail after the Covid pandemic.

Octopus Group's clients—which it did not share with Publicis at the time of acquisition—spanned technology, financial and professional services brands, such as Siemens, Adobe, Logitech, Smartsheet, Cognizant and ACI Worldwide, and it has a range of "tech-first" capabilities, including creative, content, digital experience and public relations.

Octopus Group's management team were the main shareholders. They included Lonsdale, finance director Ben Holden, board director Nicola Pestell, chief strategy director and co-founder Billy Hamilton-Stent and Hendrick.

Ikiler said: "We want to make Publicis Groupe a centre of excellence for B2B clients, and to better serve our existing B2C clients who require B2B expertise. By building out Publicis Pro across our key markets in the region, we are already uncovering exciting new growth opportunities."

Lonsdale added: "This is the natural next step in Octopus' journey and will allow us to offer clients more access to talent, tech and data as we scale and supercharge our existing offering across Publicis Groupe.

"Publicis Pro brings an exciting opportunity to launch new services, including AI tools, that are specifically designed for complex B2B audiences."

Campaign UK

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