The advertising industry is undergoing a new era of transformation, according to Publicis Groupe CEO Maurice Levy, who made the opening keynote speech at the 4As conference in Miami.
He discussed what he called his "five days of reckoning." They include ads being blocked and not being seen by people. In addition, agencies are not trusted by clients as they formerly were. They are being disintermediated by new competitors, such as Facebook.
In addition to the trust factor, he said, clients are increasingly questioning agencies' skills.
"This is a wake-up call," says Levy. "I don't believe we are at the end of advertising or the end of our industry. I have spent all my life in advertising, and I think we have a bright future provided we reinvent ourselves."
Publicis Groupe is no longer a holding company, he says. Our competitors may not yet be aware, he added, but "we believe this model is dead. Finished. Publicis Groupe is a connected company [that is] easy to access. And friction-free."
The Groupe is introducing a new approach called “Sapient Inside” that leverages its key agencies, including Nitro and Razorfish, to provide clients with "uniquely competitive" plug-in play approaches that combine technology, creativity and marketing.
It will be operational July 1 in key markets.
"We believe in power of one. No silos. All [of our] assets at the service of clients," he says. "We grew by building fantastic assets in [a] silo approach." These good old days are finished, he says. "We are not stupid." Publicis can add "technology, talent and creativity" to help "clients grow their business better than anyone else."
He declined to say whether this strategy would have kept specific clients, such as P&G, which took away a big piece of business from the company last year.
Levy also touched on the topic that has captured the entire industry’s attention — the downfall of JWT CEO Gustavo Martinez — and whether his alleged misconduct revealed in a lawsuit two weeks ago is reflective of a broader systemic problem in Adland.
Levy thinks the answer is no. While he doesn't believe what happened at JWT is a "one man mistake,” he also believes “it is not a fair representation of the industry. It is terrible. In today's world, it is hard to see how he could say what he said."
Perhaps, Levy quipped, “he learned from Trump."