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Slams 'Integrated Marketing Communications' as 'Faulty Practice'

April 19, 2001

NAPLES, Fla. ( -- Maurice Levy, chairman-CEO of Paris-based holding company Publicis Groupe, in a strongly worded speech

Photo: Doug Goodman..
Maurice Levy called for the creation of a 'culture of futurism.'
challenged the industry's most popular buzzword.

"I declare that integrated marketing communications is faulty in practice if not in concept," he said. Many agencies talk about integrated offerings, he told the AAAA Marketing Conference, but continue to focus primarily on traditional media advertising, with other disciplines playing a secondary role.

"In the service of integration, a group of diverse communications specialists are drawn together to build their plans around a pre-defined advertising concept," he said, an approach he likened to "trying to reassemble a broken egg from its pieces." The better approach, he said, is best defined by the old Young & Rubicam "whole-egg" philosophy.

New catchphrase
Mr. Levy said Publicis has coined a new catchphrase,

"holistic marketing."

"Holism leads to a creative process that is no longer advertising centric," he said. "This does not imply an end to specialist capabilities. It does require a more evolved way of deploying them. It's about finding the smartest solution from the start, even if it is surprising and unexpected."

Interviewed after his speech, which was well received by the audience, Mr. Levy said that the Publicis agency network already takes a that approach. But he acknowledged that a second Publicis Groupe network, Saatchi & Saatchi, does not follow the model. Agency executives applauded Mr. Levy's speech but several said that they are already offering clients the type of approach Mr. Levy described under the integrated marketing banner.

'Culture of Futurism'
Mr. Levy, who speaks English fluently but with a heavy French accent, outlined several other "business principles" in a speech noted for its passion. He encouraged agencies and marketers to create a "culture of futurism" that "allows us to plan for where consumers are headed." He said agencies need to be more nimble, with shorter planning and development cycles. And he challenged shops to practice "fearless accountability."

"Without measurable business objectives," he said, "[agencies are] engaging in something akin to malpractice."

-- Laura Petrecca, Laura Hughes and Scott Donaton

Copyright April 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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