Publicis’ grip on 200m Orange in doubt as chief leaves for start-up

Orange’s 200m pan-European advertising roster is in chaos after the co-founders of one of its agencies, Publicis-owned Marcel, left to form a start-up backed by Havas chairman Vincent Bollor?/p>

Frederic Raillard and Farid Mokart are launching Fred Farid Lambert (FFL) with head of the French division of Publicis, Christophe Lambert. Bollor?who is also the largest shareholder in Aegis, will own 30% of the agency, which launches in January.

The news casts doubt on Publicis’ grip on the lion’s share of Orange’s advertising account. It is not clear whether FFL will now be appointed to the company’s roster, but sources say such a move would lead to tensions with Fallon London, which handles Orange’s consumer account along with Marcel. Havas-owned Euro RSCG is responsible for Orange’s business advertising.

The defection of Raillard, Mokart and Lambert follows the appointment of former Financial Times chief executive Olivier Fleurot as executive chairman of the Publicis network last week. Sources have linked their defection with the departure of Publicis chief operating officer Rick Bendel, who is joining Asda as group marketing director.

Fallon, Marcel and Euro RSCG were appointed to Orange’s pan-European advertising roster in March. following a protracted review. The move was slammed as a “French stitch-up” at the time by the advertising industry (MW March 9).

At the time, senior members of Orange’s UK marketing department were angry that the decision appeared to spell the end of the brand’s four-year relationship with Mother. However, it has since emerged that Mother will continue to work with Orange on its “gold spot” cinema ads.

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