Advertising’s Molecular Structure Analyzed Over Espresso

At Cannes last spring, Scott Donaton of Ad Age spoke with Maurice Levy, “the urbane and shrewd Frenchman” who helms Publicis Groupe, the world’s fourth-largest marketing-communications holding company. Sipping espresso and smoking a cigar on the terrace of the Majestic Hotel, Levy, waxed poetic.

“I have never stabilized an organization,” he boasted. “Crystallizing an organization is freezing the energy. In chemistry, instability is very good because it creates some combinations you don’t expect.”
“Without change, there is fossilization,” Levy warns, “and that’s the worst thing that can happen.”
“Ideas,” he says, “are so fragile, so tenuous” that managers must “destroy layers” that can obscure or damage them. “If you have an organization that is too administrative, you are just killing the ideas. As we say in France, when you ask a committee to draw a horse, you get a camel.”



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.