Arthur Sadoun: 'Nobody is talking about the client of the future'

The industry is being disrupted and marketers are part of the equation.

Arthur Sadoun: 'Nobody is talking about the client of the future'

Everyone talks about the agency of the future, but "nobody is talking about the client of the future," said Publicis Groupe CEO Arthur Sadoun at the 4A’s Accelerate conference on Monday.

Sadoun, who shared the stage with Procter & Gamble chief brand officer Marc Pritchard and Grey New York CEO Debby Reiner, said it’s not possible to have a good relationship if the client won’t transform, as well.

"Every client is talking about growth, but there’s no growth unless you have strong partners," Sadoun said.

Pritchard, who praised Publicis and Grey’s work for P&G and agency models throughout the session, said there’s a lot of tension in agency-client partnerships.

"Slings and arrows are coming at agencies," such as consultancies coming into the industry, digital media being under attack, and clients cutting fees, said Pritchard, adding that P&G will continue to reduce costs.

Pritchard said he wants to be "really clear" that it’s not just fees, but production costs, as well.

"There are major changes in the industry – should we cry over those changes or blame our clients or act and act fast?" asked Sadoun.

One of Publicis Groupe’s drivers to disrupt its own organization and simplify its internal structure came after it lost P&G’s media business in the U.S. at the end of 2015, Sadoun said.

"If you want to radically change, sometimes it has to come from a blow," he said.

Reiner raised the issue of clients bringing capabilities in-house and asked Pritchard what he thinks about this shift. P&G, he said, will "only bring things in-house where we believe we can create value," such as digital media planning. "We don’t think we can bring everything in house – you’re the creatives; you’re better at that," he said.

Before the panel, P&G said it is creating an agency made up of employees across Publicis Groupe’s Saatchi & Saatchi, WPP’s Grey, and Omnicom’s Marina Maher Communications and Hearts & Science, according to The Wall Street Journal. The cross-agency talent will work together in shared locations in New York and Cincinnati, P&G’s headquarters.

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