Advertising Week Publicis Groupe Maurice Levy

Publicis CEO Maurice Levy hints that he may remain within the business after stepping down


By Stephen Lepitak | -

September 30, 2014 | 3 min read

Publicis boss Maurice Levy has intimated he may continue to be involved with the business, even after he retires as chairman and CEO in 2017.

Maurice Levy IAB

Speaking with IAB president and CEO, Randall Rothenberg during the organisations IAB Mixx event as part of Advertising Week, Levy began in a jovial mood by discussing his 43 years at the global advertising network.

He joked that he planned to remain in post for another 30 years after 2017 - the year he is expected to step down as CEO - and explained that another three decades would match his only predecessor, Marcel Bleustein-Blanche, who was chairman for 60 years having founded the company in 1926.

He said that each chairman had to last 60 years as a result, but added: "People should not worry about that and the people who are in a row lining up for succession should not worry."

Asked what he foresaw for marketing, Levy turned serious for an instant to state that he thought that it was very difficult to predict the next five years and added "I may be around even if I am no longer in charge."

He reverted back to jest: "In thirty years I think I will be long gone, so therefore I can't make a lot of predictions, but hopefully someone will come to see me on my grave and say 'you were wrong'," a comment which went down well with the audience.

Earlier this month, Publicis announced that despite Levy having previously stated that he would retire on New Year's Eve before 2016, that he would remain in place as chairman and CEO until the 2016 accounts were filed in 2017.

The board of directors was also reassembled to include network agency CEOs such as Starcom MediaVest CEO Laura Desmond, Steve King, CEO of ZenithOptimedia, Arthur Sadoun, CEO of Publicis Worldwide and Rishad Tobaccowala, chief strategist of Publicis Groupe all joining the board of directors. Already on the board are Lévy, Chairman, Anne-Gabrielle Heilbronner, Kevin Roberts and Jean-Michel Etienne.

The Drum had requested clarification of Levy's comment but had not received a response at the time of writing.

Levy also discussed the rise of Chinese brands such as Alibaba, claiming that the marketplace was attempting to "block interest" off from foreign marketers and will likely aim to grow outside of its own region once it fully controls it.

As well as this he spoke about the emergence of online and data and how that would change the industry, adding that he didn't believe that networks would exist in their current form over the coming years as communications evolved: "The old structures and the way we worked belong to the past," he stated.

Asked about rivalry with Facebook and Google, he admitted that there was some overlap in competition but added that he hoped they would be partners more in the future than rivals.

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