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Levy says there might be a new Publicis CEO by November – but don’t count on it

That Maurice Levy is such a tease.

The Maurice Chevalier of French advertising (below) has told a Goldman Sachs conference in New York that Publicis Groupe may announce a new CEO as early as November even though he’s not stepping down until May 20 2017.

maurice-levy-headshot-hed-2016

And even then the new CEO – no clues emerged in New York as to who that would be – won’t be seeing the back of him. He’s likely to be staying on in some role. “Should I play a role or not? Probably yes. What kind of role? Maybe doorman. The uniform is beautiful and that is what people are probably expecting of me.”

None of which makes life much easier for the candidates to succeed him; unless the lucky winner has been told already which seems unlikely in a leaky business like advertising. The leading internal candidates are Arthur Sadoun, who runs the creative and PR agencies now in Publicis Communications; Alan Herrick who runs digital outfit Publicis.Sapient and Steve King at Publicis Media. Sadoun is the favourite although his creative agencies haven’t been spectacular performers of late although they’ve had their moments, notably Publicis Worldwide with Walmart in the US and Heineken globally.

Herrick’s Sapient operation, bought for $3.2bn, is providing most of the group’s growth with media a disaster area: review after review and few wins.

Sooner or later the group’s shareholders, even the hitherto loyal founding Badinter family, are going to get tired of all this.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.

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