Publicis Board Members Forgo Bonuses

Members of Publicis Groupe’s management board decided to forgo their 2009 bonuses as a “gesture of solidarity” with the company’s employees in these tough times.

Maurice Levy (shown), the holding company’s CEO, left a $3.7 million bonus on the table, pocketing $1.2 million in salary last year. David Kenny and Jack Klues, managing partners of the VivaKi digital and media unit, each gave up $1.2 million in bonus; Jean-Yves Naouri, evp, group operations, $476,238; and Kevin Roberts, CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi, $408,182. Pubicis said each of those executives made the decision independently of one another.

Referring to those members of the management board, the Paris-based company said: “The latter have made substantial efforts throughout the year 2009 to help our clients surmount the economic crisis, and have done so in spite of the fact that the group had instituted a hiring and salary freeze.”

That freeze was initiated in October 2008 and, like other industry holding companies, Publicis has shed thousands of jobs. The freeze continues to be reviewed on an agency-by-agency basis.

Publicis has fared better than most of its competitors in the economic downturn, becoming the industry’s third-largest holding company at the expense of Interpublic Group. Last month, Publicis reported a 6.5 percent drop in 2009 organic revenue to $6.2 billion.

At the time, Levy voiced optimism that the worst is over: “While the market overall was down by 12 percent to 14 percent [in 2009], Publicis managed to limit the decrease to 6.5 percent, thereby gaining market share.” Levy citing cost controls and a decline in headcount, along with revenue from added-value services. “We are seeing a steady and continuing increase in our numbers starting last summer, and the trend continued in January 2010. Our objective is to return to positive organic growth, outperforming the market once again, in 2010,” he said.