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Berlin Brief

7 Key Insights by Maurice Levy, Chairman and CEO of Publicis Groupe

November 14, 2014

This week we hosted Maurice Lévy, Chairman and CEO of Publicis Groupe, for a special closed-door session and lunch talk:

Maurice came to the Berlin School of Creative Leadership to speak about how big data, e-commerce, digital transformation and two billion new consumers will affect the creative industries. In picturing the communication landscape of tomorrow and the importance of re-thinking the intersections in a blurred world, he shared what he claims to be his personal formula.

1. The “Blurred World”
2. Speed
3. Digital Transformation
4. The Formula: IQ, EQ, TQ & BQ
5. Pioneering in Today’s World of Advertising
6. The Issue of Collaboration
7. How to Align People

1. The “Blurred World”

“We used to live in a world where we would categorize companies and industries, even people, in kind of formatted ways. This person is an engineer. That company operates in the automobile industry. These days everything is blurred: People are blurred. Companies are blurred. Even time is blurred. Think of a company like Amazon. What kind of a company is it? A bookseller? A retailer? A media outlet? The great thing about that is that we can now think about the intersections in a way that we never thought of before. Today you can be very creative and successful in redefining these blurred lines.”

2. Speed

“We are living in a time of speed. If you think about something today, and if you really believe you can do something different – you’d better do it bloody quick. You just have to move fast or somebody else will probably take your idea. Think about companies like Facebook. At the same time, existing companies are struggling to keep up. Even if you have been very successful for a very long time – if you’re not taking the right decisions today, your company can get close to death by tomorrow. This is very much true if you think about tech firms and companies, but as our world continues to digitalize, it’s not only them anymore.”

3. Digital Transformation

“Remember the Internet bubble? In 2005, we were basically in dead seats, no one was investing in digital anymore and yet – you could see the change happening. I’ve heavily invested since 2006, because I did observe the people in the streets. How they were using their mobile phones, how they were shopping online. And I knew things were about to happen that would impact our industry in a game-changer kind of way. Anyone remembers Sony’s Walkman? Why haven’t they invented the i-pod? They were on the wrong technology path, basically.”

4. The Formula: IQ, EQ, TQ & BQ

“How can you be a pioneer in today’s world of advertising? In advertising we can change the way people see the world. If we manage to engage with them emotionally, we infect their brain. But what we need today is not only smart ideas that connect brain and emotional intelligence. We need these four: IQ, EQ, TQ – which refers to technology quotient – and BQ...be bloody quick.”

5. Pioneering in Today’s World of Advertising

“In advertising, we are supposed to be at the forefront of everything that is new. We are supposed to be the Avant-garde, to take risks – but we also have a high responsibility towards the client. There is some paradox in that. We cannot predict exactly how people will react to something. We have to accept that there is no secure recipe for success or total control. People are analog, not digital. But no matter what you do, if you believe in what you’re doing, stick to it, fight skepticism, and at the same time, be cautious about what you’re doing – at least make sure that your idea would cause no harm.”

6. The Issue of Collaboration

“We don’t live in a world of manufacturers anymore, in which companies used to design, develop, produce and distribute their products under the same roof. We all have to go for collaboration. Big data is a big issue and the new markets of China, India and Africa – just imagine the scale of two billion new consumers. We’ve started early to collaborate with Google, Facebook, Twitter, with different start-ups and media outlets. I believe this trend of collaboration will increasingly play a big role in the world of tomorrow, and the way in which we will manage business effectively.”

7. How to Align People

“A pioneer is not a group of people. A group of people can be pioneering in what they do, but there is always the one who is leading the way. It’s crucial to align people. Stay curious. Observe. Accept. Be flexible and alert. Make sure you give a few directions that everyone understands. No one has a better idea than everyone together. Don’t refuse to learn from somebody else, that’s just arrogance. I hate complacency; and I always like to think that the greatest success is yet to happen. If your team has the same spirit as you, you’re heading in the right direction.”

 

About Maurice Lévy

Maurice Lévy is Chairman and CEO of Publicis Groupe, the world’s third largest advertising and communications group, founded in 1926. Under his stewardship, Publicis Groupe has been transformed into a global powerhouse of top creative advertising and marketing agencies, and it is today a pioneer in digital and online communications.