Drugi jezik na kojem je dostupan ovaj članak: Bosnian
Two days ago, Publicis Groupe CEO and chairman Arthur Sadoun announced that his network would be foregoing all awards, trade shows and other paid promotional efforts for more than a year while developing Marcel, an AI-powered “professional assistant” that it plans to launch next June at the 2018 VivaTech conference in Paris.
Sadoun’s statement stunned the trade press and many Publicis employees. According to a senior Publicis creative, Sadoun briefed his own agencies for the first time this afternoon in Cannes after leaders spent two days grumbling about how the announcement could have been handled with greater sensitivity to the many who will be directly affected.
Multiple parties called the news “a publicity stunt,” noting the irony of announcing plans to forego paid promotions during a Cannes Festival in which Publicis Groupe trails its fellow holding companies. Several also questioned Sadoun’s claim that the purpose of the move was to shift resources toward Marcel, especially given the fact that an internal memo from the head of the company’s financial services division named “2.5 percent cost synergies for 2018” as the driving factor behind the decision.
“Make no mistake, this is purely about saving money in 2018 as growth has slowed to a crawl,” wrote one Publicis executive. “The money saved from award shows isn’t going to fund [Marcel]. It’s going to the bottom line.”
Others note that the amount of money Publicis will purportedly save by sitting out next year’s Cannes festival is considerably less than the annual salary of an executive like Sadoun (who will earn $6 million in 2017).
So what does this mean for the thousands of creatives working within the global Publicis Groupe network?
A prominent global chief creative officer who spoke to Adweek on condition of anonymity agreed with the general consensus that the ad industry has too many awards shows, describing them as “expensive and out of hand.” But he still argued that such events are of crucial importance to agencies that use them to stay competitive in terms of hiring and retaining top creative talent. Employees also see awards as one of the few tools they can use to negotiate raises and advance their own careers.
Several other top creatives agreed.
“The first thing that came to mind was: This is going to hurt recruitment,” said Jeff Goodby of Goodby Silverstein & Partners, the only agency leader who agreed to discuss the matter on the record for this story. “If you don’t win awards, people are less likely to want to work at your place. It’s the only way we have to keep score in the creative department.”
One unavoidable conclusion is that executives across the ad industry have begun to question the value of attending events like Cannes. And most parties believe that Publicis will indeed follow through on its promise, even if they question Sadoun’s given reasons for doing so.
“I can understand the urge not to enter—trust me,” said Goodby, addressing the return on investment argument. “This year, agency entries went down, and client entries went up like 60 percent. It’s an interesting way to get clients to pay for our entry fees.” For the second year in a row, WPP chairman Martin Sorrell also voiced some uncertainty about whether his network will continue to participate after various publications reported that the company had cut its attendee total from 1,000 to 500.
As the agency CEO put it, “I love that Publicis did this, and I hope the rest of the industry follows.”
For now, at least, one can only wait and see. A representative for the Cannes Lions festival did not respond to Adweek’s request for comment.