Annette King

The Showcase 2022


More than the sum of its parts: Publicis Groupe UK's 2022

From strong growth across its agencies, to award-winning work and a compelling central culture, Publicis Groupe UK can look back on another successful year

By Creative Salon

After years of foundation laying, 2022 was a year when Publicis Groupe UK really showed the power of the proposition that underpins some of the UK strongest agencies.

From high-profile hires such as Alex Grieve at BBH, Jennifer Berry at Digitas and Alison Hoad at Publicis.Poke, to new business wins including AB InBev and Standard Chartered, under the focussed and determined steer of UK chief Annette King the Groupe proved itself much more than the sum of its parts.

One of King's real strengths is attracting the best talent, and her centralised leadership team - including Sue Frogley at Publicis Media, and Ben Mooge on the creative side - is one of the best in the business. Together they had a year to be proud of.

Here Annette King gives her take on Publicis Groupe UK's 2022 and, below, Creative Salon has its say.

Annette King, CEO of Publicis Groupe UK, on her group's year

What three words would you use to describe 2022?

Demanding. Rewarding. Hopeful.

Talk us through some of your agency’s highlights this year?

On the new business front we’ve welcomed a raft of new clients into Publicis Groupe UK, from Mondelez and LVMH into Spark Foundry, to Aldi and AB InBev into Starcom, Standard Chartered to Publicis.Poke, and Nando’s to Zenith, Nintendo into MSL/Taylor Herring and TikTok to MSL, Marriott to Saatchi’s and Crocs to Digitas, to name but a few. In October Leo’s and BBH picked up three awards each for their work with McDonalds and Tesco (respectively) at the IPA Effectiveness Awards and the Effies.

What one thing are you proudest of this year?

The resilience and ambition of our talent who continue to push big ideas and deliver growth for our clients in a tough market. And their willingness to do so with a healthy dose of humour and humanity along the way.

And what’s been your biggest challenge?

Our biggest challenge and opportunity will always be around our talent. Every year the group of people that we welcome through our doors diversifies, and that helps us to better understand what they want and need to thrive. The first year back in the real world has been a period of unpacking, reimagining, and redefining the realms of what our workspace and culture need to look like. And at the heart of that has been a commitment to listening more and acting more on what we hear.

What are you most looking forward to in 2023?

Watching our industry – and the incredible talent within it – elevate the work and push the boundaries of what’s possible for our clients. Creativity has always been one of the most powerful conduits for driving change and whilst there is no denying that the current economic uncertainty will bring about challenges, advertising has a knack for conjuring up some of our biggest and best ideas when the world needs it most.

And what one change would you most like to see in our industry next year?

A greater commitment to exploring and introducing new ways of working for our neurodivergent talent and a willingness for agencies to share their journeys with one another – it's going to take a massive collective effort to get to where we need to be.

Creative Salon on Publicis Groupe UK's 2022

Publicis Groupe UK started the year with a rush of momentum off the back of a strong 2021 and by the time the Campaign School Reports was published at the end of March, it had climbed from second to knock Omnicom off the top spot as the UK’s biggest holding company ranked by ad agency billings.

But Annette King has wasted no time busily building out the UK offer. She added the launch of a Dublin office to the BBH micro-network, and by the end of the year had brought the Netherlands’ biggest social-first creative agency, Boomerang, to launch in London, with a fresh influx of talent focussed on enhancing clients’ performance marketing.

Bringing a sense of cultural cohesion to a range of Publicis Groupe agencies, which each have their own personality and values, has meant the introduction of some of the industry’s most progressive HR policies. Most notably this year Publicis Groupe has launched a new scheme to attract more diverse talent to the industry. The paid internships at Groupe agencies are designed to give school leavers from ethnic minority and low social mobility backgrounds a route into jobs in data science, data engineering, commerce, analytics or software, for which a degree is usually required.

The Groupe also launched a full-blown Data Academy, with new apprenticeships to give more employees the opportunity to train and work in data skills, helping turbo-charge careers and enhancing the digital and data services on offer for clients.

Perhaps one of the most satisfying events for the Groupe was the result of the Morrisons pitch in the autumn. When the retailer called a review, incumbent Publicis.Poke was put on red alert. But in the end the account was retained within the Groupe when Leo Burnett was handed the business.

Finally, in recognition of her role as one of the industry’s most powerful champions and business leaders, the Advertising Association invited Annette King to become Chair of the organisation, one of the real honours of the business.

Creative Salon says: You'd never bet against Annette King in a competition and the leader of Publicis Groupe UK has this year again proved her mettle by helping her agencies shepherd in impressive new business, hiring some more of the industry's best names, expanding the Groupe offer into new revenue streams and enhancing the Groupe's benefit schemes for existing and new talent. As its agencies face in to the challenges of 2023, the UK Groupe's solid support structure will be there to buoy them.

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