Omnicom and Publicis: their kingdom for an anthropologist

john-wren-1_416x416We break our usual Saturday silence to bring you this astonishing quote from John Wren.

It was issued yesterday as the head of Omnicom discussed the failure of the proposed merger with Publicis.

Apparently, the causes went beyond tax and regulatory challenges.

“We knew there would be differences in corporate cultures of Omnicom and Publicis.  I know now that we underestimated the depths of these cultural differences. I want to emphasize these were differences of corporate not national culture.”

Very smart lawyers were working on the tax and regulatory issues.  If only they had had an anthropologist working on the cultural ones.

Source for quote: Laurel Wentz in Ad Age, see the full coverage here.

3 thoughts on “Omnicom and Publicis: their kingdom for an anthropologist”

  1. Corporate culture here seems more like corporate speak for a a battle of control. They need a psychologist for their egos, not an anthropologist.

    Their add business is a creative one and with lots of understanding of human behavior. I am guessing that they already have anthropologists and other experts on staff to understand said human behavior. So how did they get it wrong?

    1. Urban B – few outside the organisations can know how many anthropologists and other experts in human behaviour they actually have on staff, because they are big organisations and few outsiders get an overview of the whole thing.

      However, things I can say from interactions with various branches of both:

      1) They actually contract in a lot of their serious human behaviour and anthropology expertise. They don’t employ anywhere near the number of such experts one might imagine.

      2) When it comes to their own businesses they are generally not interested in applying such expertise. They typically think it doesn’t apply to them…

      1. Indy, well said, the general idea appears to be that ethnographers and anthropologists are useful perhaps to discover consumer cultures and corporate cultures, but when it comes to the highest order of decision making, well, that’s really just for adults. Thanks, Grant

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