The whole of the communications business is being shaken up – and yet, one thing will remain exactly the same.

“In 10 years time, as today, ideas will be king,” according to ad agency holding group Publicis’ CEO Maurice Lévy.

Speaking with Beet.TV, he envisages a future industry in which digital technology will play a bigger and bigger role – and that will force agencies to adapt.

“Our role will evolve,” he says. “We will have to work more closely with the client. We will have to develop a whole spectrum of services, from brand-building to sales – omni-channel. This will take a lot of transformation. It’s a business that has to be reinvented.”

Lévy has already spent the last few decades reinventing Publicis. What better emblem for an industry witnessing the collision of creativity and technology than the tech guy who ended up running his company, 16 years after joining its IT department?

Lévy joined Publicis as IT director in 1971 – after which, one of his most important feats is said to be putting in place a data security policy that involved backing up all of the company’s data on magnetic tape.

According to Wikipedia: “A fire in the company’s office (on the Champs-Elysées) proved the success of his backup and restoration strategy, as the company was back on its feet one week later.”

Four decades later, and data could barely be a hotter topic in the advertising agency world. So how does Lévy, now 73, advise the next generation of job entrants to this fast-moving industry?

“If they want to live, with passion, the unexpected; if they want to be part of the people who will be modelling the future; if they want to be at the intersection of digital technology, emotions, creativity… if they have the passion for that, there is only one place,” he says. “It is the advertising world.”

It is a marker of how highly Publicis regards its CEO that it extended his tenure despite the collapse of the Omnicom merger he architected. He reportedly has hinted that, when he leaves the company, it is a team and not an individual that will replace him.

Lévy has three sons and several grandchildren who regularly seek his career wisdom. So, what does he say?

“Be who you are,” Lévy tells Beet.TV. “If you are not happy, leave. Have fun. We spend most of our waking time working, at our desk, computers, with teams, clients, etc. We must have fun. Don’t listen to anyone, be who you are.”


Levy  was interviewed for Beet.TV by David J. Moore, Chairman of Xaxis and President of WPP Digital.  The taping took place during the Cannes Lions Festival in 2015.  This is part of Beet.TV series title the Media Revolutionaries.  The series is sponsored by Xaxis and Microsoft.