|April 23, 2010|
|Don't Go, Maurice|
|By Kevin McCauley|
|A sense of gloom and unease pervaded ad/PR land yesterday when word spread that maestro Maurice Levy, CEO of Publicis Groupe, told the Guardian that he would not seek a contract renewal when his pact is up at the end of next year. |
What's up with that, Maurice?
A glimmer of hope exists today via a Financial Times report that the Publicis board of directors is "not happy" with Levy's planned exit. The suave silver-tongued Morocco-born Frenchman left the door of hope open a crack, saying that the board might ask him to stick around.
Levy has Publicis right where he wants it. He has just completed a boffo first-quarter as revenues jumped eight percent. More good news is to come as Levy says Q1 is just a "base" to build on for the rest of the year.
Publicis' boss, who once served as its IT director, earns high praise it comes to managing the transition from "classic" advertising to digital. His $1.3B acquisitions of Digitas and the $530M buy of Razorfish from Microsoft rank as masterstrokes, the envy of the ad/PR conglomerate world.
Levy reports that digital grew 15 percent so far this year, generating 27 percent of revenues, up from 20 percent last year. Classic advertising accounts for 34 percent of overall revenues. That compares very favorably to competitor Omnicom, where advertising accounting for about 45 percent of its overall $2.9M first-quarter revenues.
Levy, 68, expects advertising to drop to about a quarter of revenues in three to four years. This blogger hopes he's in the Publicis executive suite to announce that milestone.
Levy is a 40-year veteran of Publicis. He's responsible for propelling Publicis onto the worldwide stage via deals made for Saatchi & Saatchi and parent of Leo Burnett, which brought Manning, Selvage & Lee, into the fold. He also purchased a majority stake in the very high-profile British PR firm, Freud Communications.
There is another reason why Maurice canít go gently into the communications night. If Maurice departs, who is WPP CEO Martin Sorrell, the pride of Dublin, going to snipe with?
Levy, Commander of the French Legion of Honor and Commander of the National Order of Merit, is Sir Martin's only equal. Life for Sorrell would be a tad boring without Levy to joist with.
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