Arthur Sadoun Says Staff Churn, Not Winning Awards, Is Publicis’ Biggest Threat

Arthur Sadoun Says Staff Churn, Not Winning Awards, Is Publicis’ Biggest Threat
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The newly appointed chief of Publicis Groupe, Arthur Sadoun, has labelled staff turnover among its global agencies as his number one concern.

Sadoun, of course, hit the headlines in Cannes a fortnight ago when he announced a 12-month moratorium on any of Publicis’ agencies (including Australia) entering any awards for 2018.

However, in a speech in London yesterday hosted by the British ad association ISBA, Sadoun said it wasn’t shiny statues he was most interested in, rather retaining top staff who were increasingly being lured to non-agencies such as Facebook, Google and the consultancy firms.

Sadoun revealed that 14 per cent of Publicis’ 80,000 staff worldwide had plans to quit the network in the coming 24 months.

It was because of this pending exodus, that Sadoun was hanging his hopes on his new Marcel AI platform that will help foster better collaboration among its 80,000 employees across 200 disciplines in 130 countries.

Sadoun said of Marcel: “Agencies are not changing from within and putting technology at the core of our own model. We are the only service industry that has not tried.

“This is what we’re doing. It’s for our people, for our clients and trying to do something for the industry. And at the end all we get is ‘ah, they’re not coming to Cannes; they don’t stand for creativity.’ I’ll take it. I don’t care.

“I have decided I don’t care how long I’m going to stay but I’m going to have an impact,” he said. “I’m happy to get fired, I don’t care, I have other things to do. My responsibilities are that we’re committed to changing things. Will we succeed? I don’t know.”

Sadoun added that his decision to quit all awards for 12 months may have shocked the industry, however, he believed Publicis’ clients had been very receptive to the idea. He said it was all about being “relevant”adding: “We can’t operate the way we did 20 years ago.”

What Sadoun hoped for was that a young creative anywhere in the Publicis global network could feel like they had the opportunity to work on the next “big” campaign no matter what city they happened to be working in.

“Tomorrow a creative at Leo Burnett in Sao Paolo will be able to work on a Super Bowl campaign from Saatchi in New York.

“It doesn’t mean we’re going to cannibalise our agencies because it will be led by our creative director but it will give someone who is 25 years old, who has never worked outside of Brazil, the chance to do the next big campaign for the Super Bowl.

No other group can do that because no other group is organised in a way where there aren’t silos,” he said.

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