It took advertising groups Publicis and Omnicom nine months to decide that they wouldn’t merge after all. The post-mortem on the aborted deal has begun to play out in the media and the markets. Omnicom CEO John Wren, in a conference call with analysts today, pithily summed up the obstacles as follows:
If I had to summarize in a tweet, it would be, corporate culture, complexity and time. And I would still have 100 characters left.
For his part, Publicis boss Maurice Lévy said on a separate call that the decision to scrap the deal was done “pretty quickly and pretty amicably.” But when an analyst asked whether, during the months they spent talking, the two firms picked up any juicy inside information on each other, the Publicis chief responded with a bit of French frisson:
It’s like a swimming suit of the beginning of the 20th century, you really don’t see anything. This is what we saw. It’s not the bikini, it is a swimming suit of the beginning of last century. So, we have not seen very much from Omnicom and they have not seen very much from us.
This might not be the best—or worst, depending on your point of view—tortured corporate metaphor so far this year, but Lévy certainly wins the day for deploying unexpectedly evocative imagery to describe an otherwise dull transactional detail. He must work in advertising.