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BW Businessworld

‘We Expect To See Good Growth Continue’

Publicis Groupe chairman & CEO Maurice Lévy points out that in the past two years the number of smartphones has gone up from less than 20 million to nearly 200 million, poised to double again in 2016. India, which is the second-largest market in usage for all the big platforms such as Facebook, is young and connected.

While India has been critical for the Publicis Groupe, the year 2015 holds special significance. Post its Sapient acquisition, the holding company has over 12,000 employees in India, which is second only to the US. In a conversation with BW Businessworld, Publicis Groupe chairman & CEO Maurice Lévy points out that in the past two years the number of smartphones has gone up from less than 20 million to nearly 200 million, poised to double again in 2016. India, which is the second-largest market in usage for all the big platforms such as Facebook, is young and connected. Edited excerpts:

Q. The year 2015 has been dubbed a tough year for the global economy. What are some of the pressures that the Publicis Groupe has seen this year?
There are two key pressure points. The first is that there is a deflationary environment and clients are under pressure from consumers and investors to be more productive. This is putting pressure on their partners, including us to do more for less. And the second is digital is transforming business and bringing in new competitors and highly-empowered consumers. This is challenging the way clients do business and they are re-thinking every aspect of their business. In this regard, we are ahead given our strategy, digital leadership with 52 per cent of our revenue coming from digital.

Q. What else are you planning for growth in 2016?
We have a strategy built around being a driving force to help our clients transform their business through the alchemy of creativity and technology. This is why we began to invest in digital. We now have the ability to provide consulting services (IQ), technology services (TQ), and creative services (EQ) at scale unlike any other company. We recognise that people are carbon-based and have feelings, and need to be motivated by stories, but we also recognise that the way we connect with them and provide services and utilities have changed because of silicon technology. Thus, we blend technology and creativity.

Q. Will the same growth strategy apply for India as well?
We have started to enjoy good growth in India across all our companies, and we expect to see this continue as our brands works tightly together to leverage each other.

Q. While it has been a tough year for Publicis per se, how has India contributed to your global growth?
This has not been a good year for the Publicis Groupe for a variety of reasons, including the after effects of our failed merger with Omnicom, the number of pitches we have had to work on in media in the US, downturns worse than expected in countries like Brazil, and the focus on integrating Sapient, which is going well. India itself is doing well though. As we look ahead, we are optimistic for 2016 because of our strategy, because of our acquisitions and also putting the issues of the past two years, well into the past.

Q. Any specific reason for saying India did well for you?
More than momentum, 2015 is a turning point for the Publicis Groupe in India. We are not only repositioning the Groupe with Sapient, but also reinventing our organisation towards greater integration and agility. We have now a permanent Indian Board reuniting all our CEOs in the country. This organisation is driving cross solutions between our agencies to innovate and better serve our clients. I wish this could go faster.

(This story was published in BW | Businessworld Issue Dated 30-11-2015)



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