Arthur Sadoun: If you're not transforming, you will be left behind

Creatives must embrace new ways of thinking, not just about the work, but processes, purpose and leadership, Publicis Groupe’s chairman and CEO writes, as part of our series by global agency chiefs ahead of Cannes Lions.

Arthur Sadoun, Publicis, headshot
Sadoun wants creativity that is 'smart, progressive and brave.'

In today’s fast-paced, post-pandemic and increasingly chaotic world, the sentiment we are experiencing globally has dramatically changed. If your business or brand is not transforming, redesigning, experimenting with new creative models, processes and leadership that have diversity, collaboration, courage and fluidity built into the actual system, you will be left behind.

When we look at creative collaboration, arguably our industry is behind others. One of the most significant creative forces that has driven the success of the music industry over past years are collaborations. Inspiring partnerships, with artists from Daft Punk through to Lil Nas X, are generating an output far better than would have been achieved by just one artist and creating a critical cross-section passion point.

We see it too in the fashion industry. Partnerships between brands like Gucci X Adidas, H&M X Lanvin, and even cross-sector too – take the successful Balenciaga and Fortnite partnership, for example, which recently offered its 350 million players an item of clothing from the luxury fashion brand for their avatar. Powerful creative collisions are bringing together a swath of creative capabilities to produce collective genius, an output that ultimately enables brands more reach to tap into new audiences.

At Publicis Groupe, we are unique in maintaining, investing into and empowering our individual creative agency brands, but what is critical is to create an environment where our creative collective can unite and thrive; from creatives within our agency brands to those at Sapient creating integrated experiences right through to our teams at Epsilon producing AI-led creativity. This vision is brought to life further through Marcel, which brings opportunities to the surface, enabling our people to work in engaged, connected and productive ways.

Instead of having creatives “stuck” within their own brand house, we are committed to diversifying our creative product and allowing experimentation through collaboration to ensure creativity is smart, progressive and brave. Take Le Pub – a dedicated model that integrates the best creativity with data and tech for clients – and their recent work for Heineken that turned bar shutters around the world into a new media outlet throughout lockdown.

And Le Truc – a next-generation creative model nurturing explorative and experimental creative partnerships; both internally with our agencies to create work for clients including TikTok, Samsung and Planet Fitness, and also externally, fostering an open community with partners like Retrospect, a black-owned experimental studio.

Ultimately, the key is not to be fearful with creativity – don’t fight it, work with it in everything you do and collaborate! The best creativity will not come from silos and if we continue to buy into single authority, protective or narrow creativity as an industry, we aren’t doing right by our clients nor the world at large.

More exclusive essays by global agency chiefs: 

Wendy Clark, global CEO, Dentsu International: Connected creativity is as fundamental to us as sleep

John Wren, chairman & CEO, Omnicom: People are still the backbone of our industry

Mark Read, CEO, WPP: The best ideas don't answer just one problem, but many

Publishing tomorrow (17 June): Philippe Krakowsky, CEO, Interpublic Group

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