Digital Revolution Has Made Ad Model Passé, Says Publicis Boss

11 April 2008

WASHINGTON, DC: Yet another industry leader this week oblated before the idol of digital deity at the International Advertising Association's annual World Congress.

The latest high profile proselytizer of the cause was Publicis Groupe chairman/ceo Maurice Lévy (pictured above), adland's most pragmatic practitioner in the eyes of many.

He spoke of the "huge challenges" ahead for the business. "The very model of our industry is being called into question. The model today is no longer valid, no longer relevant."

But Lévy is not, he averred, "running scared" of the digital giants that are now setting the pace within the ad industry and declared his "huge respect" for the likes of Microsoft, Yahoo and Google

Nor does the adland pundit view the latter in the same light ("a short-term friend and long-term enemy") as his rival Sir Martin Sorrell.

Instead Lévy insists that the major agency groups are here to stay. "Our role will remain strong, firm, indispensable. All we must do is adapt."

Agencies, he said, need to intuit technolog to keep apace with audiences spending ever more time with video games, cellphones and other new media.
These are not idle words. The ad maître has already put Publicis shareholders' money where his mouth is, with December's $1.3 billion (€822.58bn; £659.0m) purchase of leading US cyber shop Digitas.

Following the purchase Publicis predicted the acquisition would boost the contribution made by digital services to 15% of total group revenues.

Data sourced from multiple origins; additional content by WARC staff