Publicis Agencies’ Work Submitted for All Major Awards Despite ‘Trade Show Ban’

By Patrick Coffee 

Remember a little less than a year ago when Arthur Sadoun made a very big splash in his new gig as Publicis Groupe CEO by forbidding all agencies from submitting their work to awards shows for an entire year (including Cannes 2018)?

Turns out his move was maybe not quite as bold as it first appeared.

Major campaigns by Publicis agencies around the world are still being submitted to all major shows. Just not by the agencies themselves.

This is not particularly surprising given that marketers sometimes run the process on their own or at least act to ensure that the work promoting their brands is up for consideration. But it runs directly counter to the initial memo from financial division Re:Sources, which stated that the all Publicis organizations “will not participate in any vendor conferences, industry trade shows and/or award shows effective July 1 [2017].”

“This is mandatory and exceptions will not be approved,” the note read, adding, “ban is effective for the entire Groupe.”

Today a representative from Saatchi & Saatchi confirmed that multiple clients submitted its work to the D&AD Awards (winners here). Another party told us that production companies were behind Publicis’ One Club submissions, and yet another said that P&G sent “It’s a Tide Ad” to Cannes, where it will surely pick up some (deserved, IMO) Lions in June. We’re waiting for a statement on that from the client. Cannes reps have not responded to a request for comment or confirmation.

So Publicis will indeed be competing alongside its rivals in every major trade show despite promises to sit them out in the interest of achieving “2.5 percent cost synergies for 2018.”

A holding group spokesperson sent the following statement:

As announced last June, Publicis Groupe has decided to mark a pause to award shows by holding submissions to industry festivals where investment is required to participate.

While there is a pause on all investments made by Publicis Groupe agencies, clients of Publicis Groupe agencies are able to enter award-worthy work in major festivals. If a client is willing to pay the entry fee or cost of an award submission directly, our teams will continue to partner with them on developing content for the submission. Clients submitting awards on their own behalf can mention the agency as a contributor. We are very grateful to our clients submitting work.

Throughout the year, submissions and invitations have been reviewed on a case-by-case basis by brand.

As long as clients and production companies are paying the fees and creatives get to put the awards on their resumes, it’s all good, right?

Sure. Perhaps most importantly, the holding groups seem to have achieved all the concessions they wanted from Cannes parent company Ascential as this year’s event will be shorter and less bloated.

That said, this all makes the whole blowup look a little more like a standard cost-saving measure. And remember that all the Publicis executives scheduled to participate in Cannes juries this summer are still going to do so. In February, the group stated that this decision didn’t go against its earlier announcement because Ascential will be footing the bill, and this was really all about the development of our AI friend Marcel anyway.

So enjoy a week in seaside France this summer! Unless you work for Publicis and don’t have a C-suite job, of course.