Although Publicis Groupe is attempting to temper expectations after reporting better than expected results during Q3, CEO/Chairman Arthur Sadoun is confident the holding company is well-positioned to thrive post-pandemic.
“We are lucky what we have done over the past few years helped us during the last seven to eight months,” he told MediaPost. Actions taken by the company included structural internal changes, investing heavily in tech-centric Publicis Sapient and acquiring data shop Epsilon.
He points out the Groupe’s top 200 clients actually increased their ad spend 0.8% organically for the first nine months.
“You need to have a point of view, the ability to scale and the technology to connect the dots for clients,” he states. COVID-19 has increased the complexity of client challenges, but the core fundamentals centered around connecting data, creativity and technology remain as top priorities as they did pre-pandemic. He does admit pitch reviews are not the same via Zoom.
Clients have shifted spend in past nine months, expanding further into digital and direct-to-consumer brand investment as well as ecommerce. He notes that he has increasingly met face-to-face with clients, particularly in the U.S., to discuss their unique challenges. He expresses admiration for their “fighting spirit” as some categories like travel and leisure attempt to regain organic growth while others that flourished during the pandemic seek to increase their share of the market.
Sadoun notes 80% of the Groupe’s workforce is currently on Marcel, the internal communications platform. While he notes it’s exceeded expectations in how it’s come to life, “it is neither perfect nor finished,” he says, but believes its capabilities will continue to benefit staffers.
One permanent change that is likely: foregoing the use of freelance contracts, which began as a cost-saving measure during the pandemic. Instead, Publicis prefers to use Marcel to exclusively publish available job openings or short-term projects known internally as “gigs.”
“My rule number one is our people first,” he says. “We will still hire outside, but we want to keep things in-house as much as we can.”
Sadoun will spend Friday hosting 90-minute sessions with teams globally across all time zones, beginning in Asia and ending on the West Coast to answer any and every question Groupe members have about Marcel.