"We’ve got to step forward and change the way we work. We must transform ourselves to be relative for the future," said Publicis Groupe chairman and CEO Maurice Lévy during his one-on-one chat with AOL CEO Tim Armstrong at Advertising Week.
It’s been said that every company is an Internet company, but while expanding capabilities on the technology front and being able to crunch data is important, "at the end of the day, unless you find the right idea that solves the problem at the time there is no way you will be relevant to the customer," Lévy said.
Lévy, who has led Publicis for almost 30 years, said that one of his main priorities in the next two and a half years is to find his successor. He recently extended his tenure to early 2017. When Armstrong jokingly asked when he had signed the contract, Lévy intimated that the process was much less formal.
"I was asked to do it. I said yes. I have never had a contract, no letter. I am still a temporary employee. It’s funny," Lévy chuckled.
Lévy went on to talk about the competitive nature of the ad business between brands and agencies.
"It’s a competition at many levels with a lot of emotion and passion. We all want to win," he said.
That sense of competition will only increase as global players become more of a force in the marketplace, he added, citing such brands as Alibaba that have a user base larger than the US population.
"More brands want a share of the global market. Competition will be fierce," Lévy said.
The Publicis head added that the real concern lies in having US borders that are open to the Chinese, but China’s borders not open to the US.
With his tenure as head of Publicis winding down, Lévy was asked about what some of his next projects would be. Lévy said he will be working as chairman of the Peres Center for Peace International Board of Governor to help promote peace between Israel and its neighbors.