View all newsletters
Sign up for our free email newsletters

Fighting for quality news media in the digital age.

  1. Archive content
June 28, 2008

All hail Maurice Levy, Emperor of Buzzword Bingoland

By Peter Kirwan MM blog

Did you do algebra at school? If so, do you remember solving a quadratic equation but not properly understanding how you’d done it?

I wonder if Maurice Levy, chief executive and chairman of Publicis Groupe, feels that way today.

In launching VivaKI — yes, that’s how they spell it — Publicis Groupe has done something important. But the world’s second-largest network of ad agencies is having a very, very hard time explaining it to the world.

Take a look, for example, at this press release, in which Levy himself stakes a claim to being the King — no, the surely Emperor — of Buzzword Bingoland.

It’s a fair bet that the PR bunny who had to write it is now working his or her way through a bucketful of Prozac as a prelude to six months’ compassionate leave of absence.

The tech-flavoured end of the blogosphere is already taking the Michael. Entirely legitimate when you consider that Publicis seems to have wildly misinterpreted the meaning of the expression “open source”.

It would have been far simpler to get Jonah Bloom, the Brit who edits Advertising Age in New York, to write the release. Hacking his way through the thickets of verbiage, here’s what Bloom perceives:

Content from our partners
Publishing on the open web is broken, how generative AI could help fix it
Impress: Regulation, arbitration and complaints resolution
Papermule: Workflow automation for publishers

The Audience on Demand Network [will allow] Publicis Groupe clients a single point of access to plan and buy a single campaign across Microsoft, Google, Yahoo and AOL.

And there’s this:

The VivaKi Nerve Center. . . ,which initially will tap into about 30 full-timers situated within Publicis Groupe agencies around the world, will be the data analytics hub of the operation, pooling consumer and media data from all the agencies and developing new ways of analyzing and using it.

So we’re talking about automated planning and trading plus massive data warehouses. And although Bloom doesn’t mention it, we’re also talking about hollowed-out agency brands positioned like shopfronts around the edge of the model.

Publicis isn’t the only ad agency network moving in this direction. In fact, Levy’s proposal feels like the standard template I encounter in discussions with folk from Adland.

Most understand that their organisations need to become system integrators tinkering expertly with the mighty technology platforms built by Google and its rivals.

Along the way, they hope to perform the reverse double backflip that will propel them into the future as technology-intensive, rather than people-intensive, organisations. In other words: just like Google, but less profitable.

M. Levy admitted recently that he got into advertising in order to chase skirt. He also enjoys suggesting — in a pre-Cluetrain French-accented way — that the job of advertising is to “seduce” the consumer.

Perhaps it’s time for him to focus on his strengths and let the technocrats get on with the heavy lifting.

Topics in this article :

Email to point out mistakes, provide story tips or send in a letter for publication on our "Letters Page" blog

Select and enter your email address Weekly insight into the big strategic issues affecting the future of the news industry. Essential reading for media leaders every Thursday. Your morning brew of news about the world of news from Press Gazette and elsewhere in the media. Sent at around 10am UK time. Our weekly does of strategic insight about the future of news media aimed at US readers. A fortnightly update from the front-line of news and advertising. Aimed at marketers and those involved in the advertising industry.
  • Business owner/co-owner
  • CEO
  • COO
  • CFO
  • CTO
  • Chairperson
  • Non-Exec Director
  • Other C-Suite
  • Managing Director
  • President/Partner
  • Senior Executive/SVP or Corporate VP or equivalent
  • Director or equivalent
  • Group or Senior Manager
  • Head of Department/Function
  • Manager
  • Non-manager
  • Retired
  • Other
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
Thank you

Thanks for subscribing.

Websites in our network