Thursday, September 04, 2014

12036: Delayed WTF 29—Lévy’s Lunacy.

MultiCultClassics is often occupied with real work. As a result, a handful of events occur without the expected blog commentary. This limited series—Delayed WTF—seeks to make belated amends for the absence of malice.

The news that Publicis acquired digital agency Nurun for $125 million inspired a quick examination of an interview with Publicis CEO Maurice Lévy that Campaign published in July.

Still smarting from the proposed marriage gone awry with Omnicom, Lévy remarked, “I have some good memories and some bad memories, and I’m moving ahead now and building the future. We are all moving into the future. We are fierce competitors. Everyone wants to kill the other one. We will do our best to win market share and develop something new, strong, different.”

There are a few red flags flapping in lovelorn Lévy’s words. For roughly a year, Lévy and Omnicom CEO John Wren boasted that Publicis Omnicom Groupe would represent a totally fresh enterprise designed to compete with entities such as Google versus other advertising holding companies. Additionally, despite failing to consummate the relationship, Lévy continues to express a desire to “develop something new, strong, different.” After a monumental break-up, it’s usually a good idea to reflect and regroup—and avoid making any major decisions too quickly. Yet upon aborting the engagement, Lévy is acting like a stereotypical spurned fiancé. That is, he goes right out and proceeds to hook up with the same types of partners he was bedding before falling in love with Wren. It’s as if Lévy is regressing through a series of rebound girlfriends. There’s absolutely nothing new, strong or different about what he’s doing. It’s all just desperate and pathetic.

The Campaign interview added, “Lévy is looking for a ‘diplomatic’ solution for Publicis’ future—he has asked all the chief executives and their teams to come up with ideas for ‘how the future should be’.” Now he wants to be the benevolent diplomat? After initially playing dictator, informing his troops that he and Wren were merging, Lévy suddenly wants everyone to gaze into their personal Magic 8-Ball® and tell him how things should be? As if any of the CEOs might actually have a clue for the future.

Lévy also proclaimed, “We have today the largest digital penetration of any agency in the world and we will be even more digital in the future. We will be much more an Internet company than an advertising group. That’s clear. The way we will be organising our agencies and the investment we will be making is not something that we have discussed, and it will not necessarily lead to any change in our organisation. It may, but it may also not.” Huh? That sounds like a spurned fiancé who’s spent too much time drowning his sorrows at the local tavern. Wonder how the Publicis advertising agencies—who have always enjoyed the greatest power and authority in the network—feel about the notion of becoming “much more an Internet company than an advertising group.”

Regarding the Nurun purchase, Lévy gushed, “The acquisition of Nurun is another step forward in strengthening our world-class digital operations. Nurun’s expertise, based on a combination of design and new technologies, will not only bring widely-recognized talent and capabilities to our clients, but also strengthen Publicis Groupe’s digital global presence.” Um, has anyone scanned the Nurun website lately? Check out a case study too. The place is as far away from an advertising agency as possible, and it’s not even similar to the shitty digital agencies Publicis brags about (e.g., Razorfish or Digitas). Herein lies an inherent problem with the buying binges that Lévy and his fellow holding company CEOs have conducted over the years. There is simply no evidence of smooth merging and collaboration between companies within the networks. Indeed, digital remains a “below-the-line” discipline across the board. Advertising agencies and digital agencies operate from different business models—and the two are rarely teaming up in a unified fashion. Need proof? Review Team Sprint or compare the Cheerios work done by Saatchi versus the dreck from Digitas. The grand concept of integration is a damned delusion.

There is a Japanese proverb that states, “Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare.” Lévy is a jilted dinosaur doing too much daydreaming and executing too many nightmarish deals.

No comments: