Publicis Groupe chief executive Arthur Sadoun has taken to the stage at Cannes Lions to spruik the ad giant’s artificial intelligence (AI) tool Marcel.
The appearance follows a self-imposed company-wide ban on entering any advertising awards until 2019 by Sadoun last year.
As per Sadoun’s request, Publicis Groupe’s companies would not spend money on award submissions, as funding would instead be directed towards the development of Marcel.
Despite this, Publicis revealed 400 of its campaigns entered in this year’s Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity.
Speaking about Marcel and the ban, Sadoun took a light-hearted approach to his address at Cannes Lions.
Attempting to explain the ban, Sadoun said, “This [Marcel] was expensive and we needed the money.
“We needed the focus. We have hundreds of people working around the world to make this work… and maybe, more importantly, we needed a sense of urgency.
“If there is one thing I know it is that we won’t change ours without making dramatic changes.
“We need to be bolder and we need to make sure we take risks. We took a big risk but at least we are doing it.”
When asked his and the group’s position on creativity, Sadoun touted Publicis’ hiring of R/GA’s Nick Law as chief creative officer of Publicis Groupe and president of Publicis Communications earlier this year.
“It has been hard to hear from other CEOs who have never been on this stage that we don’t stand for creativity.
“It is incorrect, not only because it is the core of this organisation and when we took this decision, in the same moment, we thought that if we don’t have a leader who has full creative authority… with Nick we have someone that characterises that totally.”
“My feeling with Cannes is that it is extremely important for two reasons. The first is that our work needs to be judged,” adding it was also great for inspiring staff.
“I owe my career to creativity.”
He also thanked clients for accepting Publicis’ decision to temporarily stop entering awards.
Sadoun then praised the festival itself, claiming the festival was coming back into its own having lost its spark for a number of years.
“I came to Cannes for 20 years and I remember sitting all day looking at the 40-second commercials expecting to see things that would give me ideas for the year to come.
“I feel that Cannes had lost a bit of this and I am extremely happy to see that it is coming back.
“What [Cannes Lions Festival CEO Philip Thomas] has been doing this year and the new way in which the festival has been organised is bringing this back.