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Publicis Groupe's Arthur Sadoun: 'Yes, Our Industry is Being Challenged'

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Arthur Sadoun
Arthur Sadoun Credit: Publicis Groupe

Publicis Groupe, which saw relatively flat organic growth of 0.8 percent for 2017, is aware that the advertising and marketing business is facing some obstacles, but Chairman and CEO Arthur Sadoun says the holding company is defining its own vision to jump those hurdles.

"Yes, our industry is being challenged. Yes, our clients are having some problems," says Sadoun, who adds that the key is to take those challenges and transform your own business to bring clients the value they need for the future.

Publicis Groupe has been going through its own reinvention over the past year, including Sadoun officially taking the reins in June. Since then the agency has introduced its integrated "Power of One" model; the announced its new AI-powered professional assistant platform called Marcel; and created Publicis Spine" to help clients target consumers on an individual level.

In the next 18 months, Sadoun says marketers across all industries will look to transform their businesses and reinvent the consumer journey, which you can't do without marketing, technology, data and creativity.

The holding company numbers in the full-year report were "not exceptional," says Sadoun, but they point to how Publicis is accelerating on its own transformation journey. Organic growth rose from -1.2 percent in the first quarter of 2017 to 0.8 percent in the second quarter, followed by 1.2 percent in the third quarter and 2.2 percent in the fourth.

Sadoun told Ad Age that the numbers in the U.S. were "robust," with organic growth of 4.5 percent in the fourth quarter and 0.5 percent for the full-year in North America. The U.S. is Publicis Groupe's biggest market, composing half of its revenue. He adds that the U.S. market saw growth from clients that use its "Power of One" model, such as USAA, Walmart and HP.

Additionally, Sadoun cited Publicis Groupe's recent appointment of Nick Law, longtime R/GA creative leader, as chief creative officer of the holding company and president of Publicis Communications, as a big win for the holding company. Law will take on the role in May, right ahead of Publicis' debut of Marcel.

Clients, Sadoun says, are often looking for integrated teams right now. In media, however, he believes a review cannot include only one agency. Media can only become a fuel for growth when combined with other marketing disciplines, including technology and data, he maintains.

In 2016, Publicis Groupe reported full-year organic growth of 0.7 percent, followed by 0.8 percent this year, and Sadoun says he's confident the growth number will be higher at the end of 2018.

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