Perhaps this is why advertising sucks?

I was reading the latest issue of FastCompany (not one of their finest issues, by the way) and was intrigued by the article “A mad man gets his head together“. I was surprised at one of the sidebars in the article. I never knew that the Publicis Groupe owns the following firms:

  • Publicis
  • Leo Burnett
  • Starcom Mediavest
  • Digitas
  • Zenith-Optimedia
  • Saatchi & Saatchi

They have 44,000 employees across 104 countries and work for everyone from Nestle to Coca-Cola to P&G to McDonald’s to Samsung.

I’m not typically very paranoid, but am I the only one wondering if this is problematic?

UPDATE: I was just introduced to WPP, the group that owns companies like Y&R, Ogilvy, and Wunderman. They have 102,000 employees across 106 countries.

UPDATE 2: via the comments, there’s been a request that I clarify why this might make me uncomfortable and paranoid. Basically my issues is that looking at just these two companies alone, there is massive consolidation that may be fantastic for shareholders but may be horrendous for consumers. Like the issues surrounding the debate around (news) media consolidation, there are several problems with a very few number of companies controlling a vast majority of the activity in that industry. The wikipedia article mentions several key issues surrounding media that can be easily adjusted for the advertising world (or an other industry where a very small few control a majority of the activity):

  • For the general public, there are less diverse opinions and voices available in the media.
  • For minorities and others, fewer opportunities are available for voicing their concerns and reaching the public.
  • Healthy, market-based competition is absent, leading to slower innovation and increased prices.

I understand that, traditionally, journalism and the news media has served a higher purpose that doesn’t necessarily apply one-to-one with the advertising industry, but the issues still highly relevant.