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Publicis Groupe’s ‘solid’ growth and ‘cautious’ outlook, plus the Coinbase IPO’s big winners: Thursday Wake-Up Call

Welcome to Ad Age’s Wake-Up Call, our daily roundup of advertising, marketing, media and digital news. If you’re reading this online or in a forwarded email, here’s the link to sign up for our Wake-Up Call newsletters.

Coin counter

Another landmark moment in the mainstreaming of cryptocurrency: Coinbase made its debut as a publicly traded company on Wednesday, ending the day with a share price of $328.28—which set the company’s first-day market cap at $85.7 billion. (At one point during highly volatile trading, it actually surged past the $100 billion mark.)

Wait, what is Coinbase, exactly? In one sentence, courtesy of CNBC: “Coinbase is an app that lets you buy and sell all sorts of cryptocurrencies, like bitcoin, ethereum, litecoin and about 50 others.”

The biggest winner: “Brian Armstrong, Coinbase’s CEO, is now one of the richest people on Earth,” per CNN Business.

See also: “Google Executive’s 2020 Move to Coinbase Worth $646 Million,” per Bloomberg News.

And: “Coinbase’s first employee in 2013 cold-emailed the founders for a job—and was paid in bitcoin for 3 years,” per CNBC.

Plus: “A Surprise Winner From Coinbase’s IPO? Rapper Nas,” per Forbes.

A first

CBS News veteran Kimberly Godwin will become the first Black person to run a major broadcast news division when she takes the reigns of ABC News in May as president. Interestingly, the ABC News web post, published shortly after the announcement of the appointment, is a wire-service story from the Associated Press and includes this line: “Godwin was not made available for an interview.”

Publicis Groupe is seeing ‘solid’ growth

“Publicis Groupe has reported ‘solid’ organic growth of 2.8% for the first quarter of 2021,” Ad Age’s Alexandra Jardine reports, “boosted by strong performances in both the U.S. and Asia. Europe, however, is still lagging behind as it fights a resurgent virus and ongoing lockdowns, and the company’s outlook remains ‘cautious.’”

Key stateside stats: “The U.S. grew by 5.1% on an organic basis,” Jardine notes, “on the back of strong performances by Publicis Sapient, up by 11.2%, while Epsilon grew by 4.7% and digital media overall saw double-digit growth.”

Essential context: “The U.S. in particular benefited from a shift in investment towards digital channels, e-commerce and direct-to-consumer, according to Publicis.”

Keep reading here.

Richman rising

“Mindshare named Amanda Richman as CEO of North America, succeeding Adam Gerhart, who was elevated to global CEO late last year,” Ad Age’s Jeanine Poggi reports. “Richman joins the GroupM agency from sibling agency Wavemaker, where she was U.S. CEO.”

Essential context: “Richman’s hire is the latest in a string of leadership changes at media agencies over the past few months,” Poggi notes. “This week, Omnicom Media Group’s PHD named Katie Klein as president of integrated investment, replacing Harry Keeshan, who is retiring, and in March it appointed Joshua Palau chief media and activation officer. Havas Media hired Amy Ginsburg as chief investment officer from Canvas Worldwide in February. Canvas promoted Madhavi Tadikonda to fill the chief investment officer role.”

Keep reading here.

Take cover!

Today is the last day to enter the Ad Age Young Creatives Cover Competition. Show us where you think the industry will be 10 years from now by designing a cover for Ad Age. The brief, criteria, specs and other details can be found at

Corporate America speaks out

“Hundreds of major companies and executive leaders, including Amazon, Google, Netflix and Berkshire Hathaway’s Warren Buffett, signed a statement released Wednesday opposing ‘any discriminatory legislation’ that makes it harder for people to vote,” Megan Henney of Fox Business reports. “The statement, which appeared as advertisements in The New York Times and The Washington Post, marks one of the largest-ever political mobilizations by the business sector, which is facing growing pressure from the left to take a stance on hot-button issues.”

Keep reading here.

Playing the field

“Nearly one-third of U.S. brands may be contemplating switching up their ad agency in the next six months,” Ad Age’s Ethan Jakob Craft reports, citing new data out of Atlanta-based Setup.

The self-described “marketing matchmaker” firm’s third annual Marketing Relationship Survey takes the temperature of more than 300 marketers across brands (IBM, WarnerMedia, Duracell, etc.) and agencies (including Publicis Groupe’s Razorfish, Morrison and Modo Modo).

Essential context: “Perhaps contributing to the instability of some agency-brand relationships is a lack of transparency and communication,” Craft writes, noting that the survey “found 65% of brand-side and 56% of agency-side marketers want to improve communication in their professional relationships.”

Keep reading here.

Just briefly

Banking on a comeback: “JPMorgan earnings surge on strengthening US economy,” per the Financial Times.

Driver-assist: “Ford’s ‘BlueCruise’ hands-free system to cost $600 for 3 years,” Automotive News reports.

Pandemic update: “Vaccine Hesitancy Down in U.S., but 1 in 7 Are Still Reluctant,” Bloomberg News reports.

Golden rule: “McDonald’s mandates anti-harassment training for all 39,000 stores,” per Bloomberg News (via Ad Age).

Out: “‘Bachelor’ Star Colton Underwood Reveals He’s Gay in Emotional ‘GMA’ Interview,” per Variety.

And finally … there’s still time to enter: “Small Agency Awards entries are now open,” from Ad Age.

That does it for today’s Wake-Up Call. For more industry news and insight, follow us on Twitter: @adage.

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