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Publicis gets retaliation in first with 6.3% growth and transition to “Intelligent System” co.

AI will power further transformation says CEO Sadoun

Publicis has come out punching in 2024, pre-releasing unaudited figures showing 6.3% organic growth in 2023 (full numbers on February 8) and boasting that it’s now moving from a platform (as opposed to a holding company) to an “AI-powered Intelligent System company capable of connecting every data point, from across every expertise, business unit and geography, and putting them into the hands of all of its people.”

To effect this “Intelligent System” it’s planning to spend another €300m over the next three years, half on upskilling and recruitment, the other half on AI technology to add to Sapient and Epsilon.

CEO Arthur Sadoun (above) says: “Our journey from a holding company to a platform has not been easy, but it definitely paid off, as you can see with our 2023 organic growth outperforming the industry for the fourth year in a row. The platform organization we have built over the last decade, our proprietary data of unmatched breadth and accuracy, and the 45,000 engineers, consultants and data analysts at the heart of our model, uniquely position us to push the boundaries even further by leveraging AI.”

As to the numbers, 2023 organic growth came in at 6.3%, with 5.7% in Q4. Standouts were data firm Epsilon, (up 10%) with media growing in “double digits” and creative “low single figures.” The US (60% of revenue) was up 5%, Europe 10.3%, Asia 2.9% (held back by China), Africa 12.4% and Latin America 8.9%.

Is everything in the Publicis garden so lovely? It seems to be and surely it’s no coincidence that the French-owned group has released this just ahead of WPP’s eagerly-anticipated Investor Day on January 30 when CEO Mark Read may have to explain why the one-time industry leader isn’t growing.

One Comment

  1. This is all very inspirational, but I can’t help wondering if ad-land is once again too late to the party. Historically, the industry’s approach to data has been flawed. It wasn’t so much the lack of data, but a lack of understanding and seriousness in its application. Agencies and brands often operated on assumptions, gut feelings, and brand prestige. Publicis’ move, while ambitious, highlights a broader industry trend of playing catch-up. As someone who left traditional advertising in favour of the deeply unsexy (at the time) data, I see this as a pivotal moment. The industry must embrace this change wholeheartedly, learning from its past oversights to forge a future that is not only technologically advanced but also strategically sound. Data can no longer just be an afterthought, but the driving force behind every creative and strategic decision.
    Paul Alexander, Group CEO, Beyond: Putting Data to Work

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