Maurice Lévy Says Omnicom Merger Was ‘Dream of My Life’

Publicis Groupe boss acknowledges loss of face

Publicis Groupe CEO Maurice Lévy opened up today at a conference in Paris about the dashed hopes he had for his company’s merger with Omnicom Group—a failed initiative that could have been the pinnacle of his well-regarded career but, with its collapse, tarnished that reputation, he suggested.

When Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff asked Lévy whether innovation comes from taking risks, the holding company chief admitted that “one of the problems I have to fix in my company is to take more risks."

Lévy added: "You must be open to changing every single day, not hesitating to question yourself and to reinvent everything. Also don’t hesitate to stop. I stopped a merger, which was the dream of my life, because we were derailing and not going where we wanted to go. You can take huge risks and sometimes you can also accept to lose face, which I did, because I thought we were going in the wrong direction.”

Perhaps reflecting on the nine-month long process of trying to reach consensus with Omnicom through intermediaries like lawyers and investment bankers, Lévy continued: “In growing and following the rules, and becoming more compliant we encounter hurdles, we take less risks. We give the lawyers and these compliant people the power which gives a deceleration on the risks that you can take. I think that innovation is state of mind.”

At the Salesforce1 World Tour Paris event today, the world’s largest provider of CRM software unveiled a new French headquarters and revealed plans to open a new data center in France.