It’s a rum old state of affairs when the two of the liveliest characters in adland are well into their eighth decade but 74 year old Sir Martin Sorrell, currently disrupting away at S4Capital, has been joined in the limelight by his old adversary 77 year old Maurice Levy, still chairman of the supervisory board of Publicis Groupe and now ensconced, to just about everyone’s surprise, as interim CMO of car crash office rental business WeWork.
WeWork has raised and burnt its way though billions thanks to its dubious status as a tech business although as far as most of us can see it’s a property business with an app. Investor Japan’s SoftBank recently bailed it out after it was forced to pull a ridiculously overpriced IPO.
Levy is an old pal of WeWork chairman Marcelo Claure, the former CEO of Publicis client Sprint. Levy told the FT: “To be extremely honest with you I rejected the idea at first. It would have been much better that he goes for a young CMO and communications director but there is an emergency situation where there is a need to help for a few weeks or months.”
Levy went on to say that one of his jobs was to “stem the flow of bad news” but that he believed “We have the right strategy, the right people and should reap the fruits quite quickly.”
As far as we know Levy is staying on in his role at Publicis Groupe but his new interest may be a relief to Publicis CEO Arthur Sadoun, grappling with the challenge of turning what seems to be an impressive number of new business wins into organic growth. Publicis is forecasting a negative growth figure for 2019 of -2.5 per cent.