Publicis Memo Thanks Clients for Their ‘Commitment to Creativity’ at Cannes

The holding company is 'officially unpausing' its award show submissions

Publicis CEO Arthur Sadoun introduces Marcel at the company's own Viva Tech conference this year. Getty Images

It was a very different year for Publicis this year at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, following the holding company’s decision to refrain from submitting work in order to focus more resources on building Marcel.

Publicis CEO Arthur Sadoun told Adweek that he was encouraged by the support Publicis received from its clients to sit out this year’s awards. “All of our clients agreed, by the way,” he said, explaining that he was confident award-worthy work would still get submitted.

In an internal memo, Sadoun addressed employees about the conclusion of this year’s festival, as well as the end of its year-long “pause” on submitting work.

He noted that he and Publicis COO Nick Law attended the festival for a presentation on Marcel on Tuesday night, sharing a link to the video of the event, adding that “we demonstrated our commitment to reinventing our industry, with creativity at the core.”

When Publicis first announced it would refrain from award show submissions while building up the Marcel platform, Sadoun told Adweek, the holding company’s detractors claimed that the Marcel venture was just “PR spin” and that “everyone will leave the company if they don’t participate in Cannes.”

“A year later, Marcel is on its way (not saying it’s working yet), and when it comes to creative, [we won] three Grand Prix and [are] attracting talent,” Sadoun said, pointing to the hiring of Law.

“What matters is not awards,” he added. “You can see very iconic brands that still believe creativity means something.”

The memo credits clients for funding all of the agency’s 2018 entries, which accounted for around 8 percent of total entries for the festival, which was far fewer than in years past.

“Our clients have been championing creativity in Cannes this year. Their support of award-worthy campaigns developed with our agencies means that great work was able to be judged, with outstanding results,” Sadoun wrote in the memo, adding that work for Audi, British Airways, Carrefour, Diesel, IKEA, McDonald’s, P&G, Tesco and Toyota was recognized at the festival, including a Grand Prix in Media for Tesco, a Grand Prix in Film and a Titanium Lion for Saatchi & Saatchi New York’s “It’s a Tide Ad.”

The memo calls on Publicis employees to thank such clients for submitting work, adding, “By entering the work we have developed together this year, they have made an incredible statement of their commitment to creativity. At a moment where our industry is being challenged, they have shown us just how much they value our partnership and the big ideas we can bring to their business.”

Sadoun reserved a “special kudos” for the “incredible achievement” of the “It’s a Tide Ad” team.

“We’re officially un-pausing,” the memo, which was also signed by Law, concludes. “The race is on, and I’m counting on all of you to continue to create stellar work that makes us and our clients win in the future.”

It seems fair to expect to see a lot more Publicis employees roaming the Palais in 2019.

@ErikDOster Erik Oster is an agencies reporter for Adweek.
@kitten_mouse Lindsay Rittenhouse is a staff writer at Adweek, where she specializes in covering the world of agencies and their clients.
@PatrickCoffee Patrick Coffee is a senior editor for Adweek.